Tynia Gaither retires

By BRENT STUBBS

Senior Sports Reporter

bstubbs@tribunemedia.net

One of the hardest things for any athlete to do is to retire. But it’s so easy to do when you know that you have given it your all and there isn’t anything left in the tank.

For sprinter Tynia Gaither, who will turn 31 on March 16, the end of her track career has arrived and she admits that she feels like she can walk away from the sport with her head held high for all the accomplishments she has achieved.

Her only regret is that she didn’t earn a medal at any of the major senior international meets, including the Olympic Games and World Championships, but she admitted that it’s something she will live with. “I’m done,” were the first few words from Gaither as she spoke to The Tribune yesterday from Austin, Texas, where she resides.. “I am officially done now.”

In relating what led to her decision, Gaither said she tried to come back from an injury, but her body was not the same and her training was not the same. “Then my little brother, Hashim, passed away at the end of July and that was around the time that I was trying to catch myself,” she stated. “With all that I’ve been dealing with mentally and physically, I just thought it was time for me to retire.

“I’m not going to try to force anything. I just think it’s time for me to explore different things in my life right now.”

After carefully praying about her decision and talking to the people close to her, including her parents Sabrina Johnson and Tony Gaither, Gaither said she knew it was time, even though she tried to make a comeback over the past two seasons.

“I just had to figure it out for myself and be content with my decision,” said Gaither, a late bloomer who only started competing in the ninth grade of high school.

During her career, Gaither was a Youth Olympic Games 200 metre silver medallist and member of the gold medal 4 x 100m relay team in 2010 in Singapore, a Pan American Games bronze medallist in the 200m in 2019 in Lima, Peru and NACAC Championship 200m silver medallist and a member of the women’s 4 x 100m relay team at her home in Grand Bahama in 2022.

But the two-time eighth place finisher at the World Championships in 2017 in London, England and again in 2019 in Doha, Qatar, will also be remembered as a six-time national champion in the 100m (2016, 2017, 2021 and 2022) and 200m (2016 and 2017).

She leaves with her lifetime achievements of 7.14 in the 50m (in Gainesville, Florida in 2011), 7.23 in the

60m (Seattle, Washington in 2015), 11.02 in the 100m (Miami, Florida in 2-021), 10.7 hand timed in the 100m (at the Thomas A. Robinson Stadium in 2022), 22.14 in the 200m (Grand Bahama in 2022) and 54.20 in the 400m (in Houston, Texas in 2019).

“It was a great run. I have many great experiences that I will take with me forever as I move into the real world,” she stated. “Whatever comes for me next. I’ve learned a lot from track and field.

“It’s been my saving grace for many situations in my life. It’s kept me on the straight and narrow path. I could have ended up in so many different situations, but the sport I would say, saved me from a lot of disasters.”

As she glances back to the pages of her career, Gaither acknowledges that she couldn’t ask for a better performance than she had in her final competitive season in 2022.

“That season, I made the Diamond League Final, I ran some great PBs (personal best times), being a part of coach Bailey’s training camp was a successful decision of mine and I had a great time,” Gaither stressed.

Her low point was listed as her coming out year as a professional in 2016 when she graduated from the University of Southern California after she transferred when she completed her first two seasons at the University of Georgia.

Prior to attending primary and junior high school in Grand Bahama, Gaither completed her high school education at Osceola High School in Orlando, Florida where she began running track.

“The transition was rough because it was a lot I felt I was prepared for,” she pointed out. “Personally, I just jumped into things with no clear direction as to where I wanted to go and this is what needs to happen.

“I just wanted to be comfortable when I was making my decisions back then, but it was showing in the times that I was running. So it was a different transition for me.”

In summary, Gaither said while her career was without a major medal in her two appearances at the Olympics in Rio in 2016 and again in Tokyo in 2021, once at the World Indoors in Portland in 2016 and three World Championships in London in 2017, in Doha in 2019 and in Eugene in 2021, she’s still thrilled by what she was able to achieve.

“Everything that was supposed to happen, happened for me,” she stated.

“It happened the way that it was supposed to happen. I’m not the narrator of my story, but I think all of my successes were what was meant for me.

“I had some small medals, but didn’t get any of the big ones. But I met some great people in the sport and that will be enough for me to move on.”

Nowadays, Gaither has found herself a job as a real estate agent in Austin, Texas, where she also operates a small business. But her aim and goal is to one day return home to host some clinics for the next generation of athletes in the country.

“I haven’t really had the opportunities during my career to be involved in track and field, especially in Grand Bahama, as I would have liked to,” Gaither said. “But I want to help to grow the sport in the future.”

She indicated that she’s looking forward to obtaining some financial support from the public to help her accomplish this goal at least twice a year to provide some guidelines to the youngsters on what they need to know to get ready for college and what they need to be successful.

Persons who are interested in connecting with Gaither to provide some assistance can e-mail her at tgaither13@gmail.com

With so much talent on the horizon in the Bahamas, Gaither said she enjoys witnessing all of the successes that the athletes are producing on a yearly basis.

“I will be praying for everyone with the success of their careers and cheering them on each step of the way,” she stated. “So just keep fighting each step of the way.

“I really believe in us as a small country. I know that this coming Olympics (in Paris, France in July), we will have some medallists. I can feel it in my heart. I won’t be there in person, but I will be there in spirit.”

She admitted that she will miss training, travelling and competing in that order.

But with all of the connections she has made, she feels it will suffice as she takes care of the mental aspect of her life moving forward.

As she pulls the curtain down on her career, Gaither thanked coach Dexter Bodie, who took her under his wings at the beginning of her career, Ravanno Ferguson, who made an impact near the end and, in between, persons such as Laura and Dave Charlton, coach Geeorge Cleare, NACAC president Mike Sands, Sandra Laing, Dionne Britton, coach Rupert Gardiner, coach Fritz Grant, former BAAA president Rosamunde Carey and Kermit Taylor.

Without God, her parents, family, friends and her sponsor for eight years Adidas, as well as the Bahamas Olympic Committee, the BAAA and the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, Gaither said she would not have been the athlete she was.