Friday, October 11, 2019
By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
ALTHOUGH the Bahamas got two medals - gold and silver - and one other appearance in a final event, head coach Fritz Grant said the nine members that competed for the country at the 17th IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar, last week performed exceptionally well.
Thanks to the gold medal performance from national record-breaker Steven Gardiner and the NACAC Area and national record feat for the silver from Shaunae Miller-Uibo, the Bahamas finished 15th on the medal table and was tied with Italy and Switzerland for 26th on the placing table.
“First of all, let me give God thanks and praise for this 10-member team that ended up with nine after Pedrya Seymour was not able to make the trip,” Grant said. “I was very pleased with the performance accomplished by the team.
“I felt that the team really, really performed historically because when you look at the 400m, our two quarter-milers set national records and they ended up being sixth overall in the history of the event worldwide.”
Not to underscore the performances of sprinter Tynia Gaither, who advanced to the final of the women’s 200m, only to end up eighth after she didn’t make the cut for the final eight in the 100m in her bid to go for a sprint double.
“She performed exceptionally well,” Grant said. “We also had semi-final performances from Anthonique Strachan in the 200m. They were some of the highlights for Team Bahamas. But when I look at the performances overall, you had Terrence Jones, who participated in the 200m as a teenager in his first major international meet.”
Grant said with the experience that Jones garnered, although he was disqualified for stepping on the line in his lane, he feels the Grand Bahamian put himself in a good position to look forward to the Olympic Games next year.
He also mentioned Donald Thomas, another Grand Bahamian, who didn’t make the final, but showed that he was back after he battled some injuries that had him sidelined for a bit this year.
As for twin brothers, Latario and Lathone Collie-Minns and quarter-miler Alonzo Russell, Grant said they all gave it their best.
“Overall, I thought the team performed exceptionally well,” he said. “It was a great performance. I must congratulate each and every one of them. Plus, the management team, I think they did a good job along with the coaching staff and the medical personnel.
With their theme: ‘One team, one goal, excellence in athletics,’ Grant expressed his gratitude to the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations for allowing him the opportunity to serve as the head coach.
As for his recommendations, Grant said if everybody can work together as a team as they did in Doha, they can continue to build track and field.
“All of the stakeholders need to work together so that we can improve the level of competition for our athletes,” he said.
“We are looking forward to getting everybody on the same page so that we can make this sport much better for all.”
Grant said the biggest disappointment was that the Bahamas wasn’t represented in any of the relays, but it has to start with the individual athletes and their coaches buying into the idea that they have to achieve the standards.
“There’s no shortcut to success, so the athletes and their coaches must look at the relays holistically and let’s work towards putting the teams together so that they can get in the qualifying performances,” Grant said.
“We have sufficient athletes in the quarter-mile and the sprints so there’s no reason why we can’t have our teams selected to compete in the relays again. This is why I am recommending that the BAAA bring the athletes together and make sure that they get to the meets to qualify. But they can’t do that if everybody is not on the same page.”
The Summer Olympic Games are scheduled for July 24 to August 9, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.
It’s the responsibility of the Bahamas Olympic Committee to prepare the team. So Grant said it’s going to be critical for the BAAA to work in tandem with the BOC to get the best team possible selected.
As for the 18th IAAF World Championships, scheduled for August 6-15, 2021 in Eugene, Oregon, better known as ‘TrackTown USA,’ The BAAA will be responsible for that team, just as they did for the team in Doha.
Sharon Gardiner, the BAAA vice president of finance, who also travelled as a co-manager of the team in Doha, said they had an issue prior to going to the championships that they didn’t have sufficient funding to cover their expenses.
But she noted that while they eventually got the funding to cover the expenses, they have to work closely with the Bahamas Government and the general public for their teams to travel in the future because it is an issue and should be addressed. “To prepare our athletes adequately, we do need funding,” said Gardiner, who noted that their budget for the championships increased from $116,000 to about $120,000, taking into consideration their administrative cost, the prices for tickets to travel and the expenses to take care of the athletes while in Doha.
Drumeco Archer, president of the BAAA, said thanks to a private donor, a figure he wished not to disclose and with the assistance of $25,000 from the Bahamas Government in addition to the $25,000 grant for the new season, and the support from the IAAF, they were able to secure the necessary funding.
However, Archer dispelled the report on the BBC News in Doha that Miller-Uibo stepped up and helped to fund the BAAA in getting the team to the championships. “We were grateful to the IAAF for underwriting most of the expenses of the athletes,” Archer said. “That alleviated a lot of stress placed on us. I’m not prepared to go into the details because we will go right back to the issues that we had with the government before we left.
“I’m only prepared to say to you that we had the benefit of the IAAF underwriting some of the expenses for our athletes, the Bahamas government gave us some money and we had some small private donors. But I can assure you it wasn’t from Shaunae.”
Archer said a detailed accounting of their expenses will be presented to the BAAA membership before they are released to the media.