IT’S not how you start, nor how you get there. Most importantly, it’s how you finish.
• The Finish Line, a weekly column, seeks to comment on the state of affairs in the local sports scene, highlighting the highs and the lows, the thrills and the spills and the successes and failures.
By BRENT STUBBS
THE WEEK THAT WAS
BAHAMIAN athletics saw the return of two of its premier athletes - quarter-miler Ramon Miller and triple jumper Leevan “Superman” Sands - after they were forced to sit out the entire season with injuries last year. That was some good news.
But on the same weekend, the governing body for athletics, the Bahamas Association of Athletic Federations, released the names of the athletes selected to compete in the 2015 IAAF/BTC World Relays, May 2-3 at the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium.
But once again the announcement didn’t come without some controversy as a couple of key athletes were not included.
The BAAA had indicated that they were using the National High School Relays over the weekend for athletes to get a last minute chance to make the team by competing in the individual 100, 200 and 400 metres for both men and women. The number of participants was certainly not what was anticipated as only Miller and V’Alonee Robinson, who competed on previous Olympic or World Championship teams, competed.
The athletes were to be included with the other athletes who competed in other meets during the year with the top competitors named to the pools for the 4 x 100, 4 x 200 and 4 x 400 relays, the only events the Bahamas will be contesting at the World Relays.
With not all of the elite athletes competing so far this year, the BAAA decided to add some of the top junior athletes, who would have performed at the CARIFTA Games in St Kitts and Nevis over the Easter holiday weekend to make up a mixture of youth and experience.
While I don’t have any problems with giving the junior athletes the exposure, I think there should have been more of the elite athletes selected, considering that this is a high level meet with the majority of the top athletes on the planet coming here to represent their respective countries.
There is no reason why, with the event dates set in stone from a year ago, our elite athletes have not been preparing to compete at this level at home. I can see those top athletes who are still in college being excused from participating because of their obligations. But for those athletes who are on government subventions, they should be available to compete.
If you look at the various countries who have submitted their list, they are stacked with their top athletes, some of whom have not competed for the year. They are coming here with a purpose and that is to perform at a high level to compete for the Golden Baton that is presented to the winning team.
The BAAA included Chris “Fireman” Brown on the original team selection and are now set to add Demetrius Pinder and Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie to the team. All three have not competed for the year, albeit Pinder started running a 800m race, but didn’t finish.
Notably missing from the team are Warren Fraser, Adrian Griffith and Jamial Rolle on the men’s side and Cache Armbrister and Nivea Smith on the female side. None of the other three females who helped to keep the women’s 4 x 400 relay afloat over the last years - Shekeitha Henfield, Myrian Byfield and Cottrel Martin - were named either.
The relays, as we have seen with the exchanges, are very technical events and it requires a wealth of experience to get the baton around the track.
So while we welcome the youngsters making the team, if Team Bahamas is going to be a force to reckon with, it will require a lot of work on the path of the seniors to push them along. It’s going to be important that they get the time off from school next week to be able to take advantage of the training camp that will be set up by the BAAA.
With only the men’s 4 x 400 team qualified for the IAAF World Championships in August in Beijing, China, you would like to see a more concerted effort by the BAAA in ensuring that the teams have a golden opportunity here at home against the talented laden field expected to get the other three teams - women’s 4 x 4 and both men and women 4 x 1 teams - qualified.
BACK ON TRACK
It was good to see that after going down with an injury during the initial World Relays last year, Ramon Miller was back and looking healthy again.
Miller, considered the giant killer, made his return during the National High School Relays, easily winning the men’s 400m in 46.35 seconds. It certainly wasn’t anywhere near his personal best, but just the mere fact that he was able to run again after a year of inactivity was good news.
And with the addition of Demetrius Pinder, the Bahamas could see the Golden Knights team of Miller, Pinder, Michael Mathieu and Chris Brown all run together for the first time since pulling off the gold medal over the United States at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England, and the prestigious Penn Relays last year in Philadelphia.
Newly wed Miller brings another dimension of the killer instinct that is needed to go head-to-head with the Americans and the Jamaicans. So whether or not he’s in tip-top shape right now, the mere fact that he’s on the team should bring some inspiration to his team-mates.
As for Leevan Sands, it’s been a long journey back from surgery to repair his left knee after he got injured during the final of the men’s triple jump at the 2012 Olympic Games. But Sands, whose nickname ‘Superman’ aptly fits him, is a warrior. I clearly remember being at the stadium in London just before he was taken away on a stretcher in the ambulance when he told me ‘I’l be back.’
Although he competed sparingly last year, but only in the long jump to stretch out his legs on his lanky 6-foot, 3-inch frame, the 33-year-old Olympic Games (2008) and World Championships (2003) bronze medallist competed in his first triple jump, soaring 15.96 metres or 52-feet, 4-inches on his second of three attempts for the victory at the War Eagle Invitational 2015 in Auburn, Alabama over the weekend.
If his performance was any indication, and based on the comments made by his coach Henry Rolle, Sands should be back on his way to another sterling performance if not at the World Championships in Beijing, he could be ready full circle at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil next year.
The Week Ahead
The focus will be geared towards the completion of the preparation of the World Relays next weekend.
The teams should be coming in as early as Monday and once again the advice is, if you are interested in being in the stands to watch athletes such as Usain Bolt, Justin Gatlin and our very own Shaunae Miller make their debut in the newest competition established by the IAAF, to get your tickets before they are all gone.
This one is definitely shaping up to be ‘Bahamazing.’
On a more sober note, The Tribune Sports Department wishes to extend condolences to Michael Laing on the passing of his mother Dorothy Laing, 74, who will be laid to rest on Sunday in Lakeview Memorial Gardens following her funeral service at Golden Gates World Outreach Ministries.
Laing heads the grounds crew at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex, and considers himself to be the best lineman in the Bahamas when it comes to marking the softball field. Of course, there is still the argument of Arthur ‘Yo-Yo’ Pritchard, who has returned to Inagua, of holding that distinction.