By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
WITH the focus on this year’s IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Russia, the quartet of Latoy Williams, Michael Mathieu, Jerome Mitchell and Jamal Moss pushed the Bahamas to the forefront as a medal contender after their victory in the men’s 4 x 400 metre relay at the Trinidad & Tobago Relays.
The team clocked three minutes and 4.53 seconds to take the tape ahead of the Green & Gold Tex from the United States and featuring former world champion Jeremy Wariner, who ran 3:06.20. Canada got third in 3:10.09 and Jamaica finished fourth in 3:20.11.
The meet was held over the weekend of March 9-10 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
“It was good because for everybody it was our first meet for the year,” Moss said. “A lot of people just came straight from training, so it was our first blow out. It was alright competing against Jamaica, Canada and the United States. Jeremy was there. He ran the third leg with Jerome Mitchell. They also had Marcus Boyd with two other competitors. So it was good to get the win.”
Moss, who is based here in the Bahamas, said it was a good experience for the quarter-milers to get in such a quality performance, coming off the gold medal performance by the team of Chris ‘Fireman’ Brown, Demetrius Pinder, Michael Mathieu and Ramon Miller at the Olympic Games in August in London, England.
“When we went into the competition, we didn’t expect to do as good as we did because everybody was flat, coming from the hard training,” Moss said. “But it played out well to the end and the way we set up worked in our favour as well.”
For Mathieu, he was pleased to run with another line-up of potential quarter-milers for this year’s team.
“We could have ran faster, but we still came out with the win, so it was pretty good,” he said. “It’s still early in the year, so we just need to compete better and in more meets together so that we can improve. The victory doesn’t mean much because the World Championships is not until August, so there’s no telling what could happen from now and until then.”
The United States had to settle for the silver at the Olympics after their two best quarter-milers LaShawn Merritt and Jeremy Wariner were unable to compete because of injuries. Wariner made his return, while Merritt is still working on getting back to top form.
“I know the US is out for us now,” Mathieu said. “I know that they will come even stronger this year, so we just have to be prepared for them.”
Mathieu, who is adjusting to fatherhood with the arrival of his first child, Miguel, to wife Kenisha, is expected to compete in his first individual event in the men’s 400 metres at the first Chris Brown Bahamas Invitational on Saturday, April 13, at the new Thomas A Robinson Track and Field Stadium.
He is scheduled to join Ramon Miller as they provide the challenge for the reigning World and Olympic champion Kirani James in the one-lap race. Demetrius Pinder is not expected to compete in the race. Instead, he is set to run in the 200. Brown will not compete as he will serve as the meet director.
“It should be a pretty good match-up against Kirani,” Mathieu said.
Following the invitational, the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations is set to send another 4 x 400 relay team to compete at the Penn Relay Carnival, scheduled for April 25-27 at the University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.