By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
MOSCOW, Russia — What a difference a year has made.
With three members of last year’s Olympic Games gold medal team out with injuries, the Bahamas failed to secure a spot in the final of the men’s 4 x 400 metre relay at the 14th IAAF World Athletics Championships.
The team of Chris “Fireman” Brown, Wesley Neymour, Latoy Williams and O’Jay Ferguson ran two minutes and 2.67 seconds for third place in the last of three heats in the qualifying round at the Luzhniki Grand Sports Complex on Thursday.
The performance left the Bahamas sitting in 13th place overall and out of contention for a lane in the final that will be ran tonight.
“Just want to thank the Lord for allowing me to come in here and run with these strong group of guys,” Brown said. “We went out there and we gave it all we had. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it. It’s a bit disappointing for us and the whole Bahamas. We’re going to rebuild because this is a good group of young guys and so it was good for them to go out there and get the experience. I was just happy that we went out there and did something.”
Russia went on to win the heat in 3:01.82, followed by Australia in 3:02.48 and Germany in third in 3:02.62, all season best times.
On his opening leg coming onto the straightaway, Brown was running ahead of Russia’s Maksim Dyldin and they ended up running in the same lane.
“The lanes looked so jumbled up. I got off the curve and I found myself in the fifth lane,” Brown said. “I was like ‘what’s going on’. I don’t know. That kind of threw me off. Everything looked like I was running out of the wrong lane. I don’t know what happened after that.”
Brown, the elder statesman of the team at age 34, passed the baton off to Neymour, who put the Bahamas in the mix coming off the stagger. He brought the baton to Williams in third spot.
“First time running second leg and I gave it all I had. I left it on the track,” said Neymour, who was on the Olympic team last year but didn’t get to run. “It’s my first time running world class, so I got some experience.”
Neymour said he felt the team gave it their best, especially “rookie O’Jay on anchor.”
When he got the baton, Williams was able to put the Bahamas out front as he brought the baton to Ferguson.
“In the 4 x 4, you have to depend on your teammates,” said Williams, who wanted to redeem himself after getting ousted in the first round of the men’s 400m. “So I got the baton in third spot and I just went out there because I knew we had a rookie on the anchor.”
Falling short of advancing, Williams said they were certainly disappointed because “I was hungry to go for round two. Unfortunately, we won’t have a round two. But it was a good experience being with these guys, especially the veteran Chris Brown.”
When he got the baton, Ferguson held the lead going around the back stretch. When he came off the final curve and onto the straightaway, he started to fade as he was passed by three competitors before the finish line.
A dejected Ferguson, who was battling a case of the flu, declined to speak afterwards. No doubt, he was just as disappointed as his peers in falling short of getting into the final.
Last year, the team of Brown, Demetrius Pinder, Michael Mathieu and Ramon Miller won the gold over the United States. This year, Pinder got hurt and never made it here. Mathieu is nursing an injury and won’t be competing here anymore. Miller ran injured in the 400m and was not fit to run again.
The Bahamas just simply didn’t get it done.