By BRENT STUBBS
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.
THE WEEK THAT WAS
The Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) hosted its National Open Track and Field Championships at the Thomas A Robinson Track and Field Stadium simultaneously with the Bahamas Swimming Federation’s Royal Bank of Canada National Swimming Championships.
At the end of the weekend’s events, the teams for the Pan-American Games, scheduled for July 10-26 in Toronto, Canada, were selected by the Bahamas Olympic Committee. The BAAA also announced the teams for the five other teams travelling this summer, including to the IAAF World Championships, set for August 22-30 in Beijing, China.
Coming out of the announcement of the latter is the fact that veteran quarter-miler Chris ‘Fireman’ Brown was left off the three-man quota for the men’s 400m in Beijing after he opted not to compete in the event at the trials, running instead in the 200m.
As a result of his decision, and the fact that four competitors, including Steven Gardiner, who broke Brown’s six-year-old national record, surpassed the qualifying standard of 45.50 seconds, the BAAA announced that Brown will not be allowed to participate in the event in Beijing.
According to BAAA president Mike Sands, the “criterion that all of the athletes were made aware of was to come, register and run the event which you would wish to run at the World Championships.”
Brown, according to Sands, though his coach, a day or two before the event, submitted a request for a bye that would have excluded him from running the 400m. “The executives, after deliberation, did not see a compelling reason, given the nature and the competitiveness of the 400m and also the rules that were known to the athletes long before, that Mr Brown should have been given given a bye.”
Does this mean that only in this case, because of the potential number of qualifiers that the BAAA saw in advance in the 400m, that because Brown didn’t run in the event, he was excluded?
What happened to the women’s 200m, where Shaunae Miller opted not to run this weekend, but instead she concentrated on the 400m. Sorry to use you as an illustration Shaunae, but wasn’t Miller still included in the women’s 200?
I’m not taking sides, but this picture looks a little mucky.
And on top of it all, Brown wasn’t selected to run in the 400m, but he was still included in the relay pool for the 4 x 400m when the team goes to Beijing. What happened to Andretti Bain, who ran in the 400m and finished in sixth place?
If Brown, who has posted three qualifying times this year, all faster than the second qualifier, was not included in the 400m, why is he being selected for the relay?
Is there another standard for consideration for the relay? How do you leave Bain out of the relay pool when he ran in the event and finished in sixth place and Brown didn’t run the event, but he was named to the relay pool? If we say that we use the same method as the US and Jamaica, they select their relay pools from the competitors who line up to compete in the 100m and 400m.
So how is it that Brown is named to the relay team when he didn’t run the 400m and Bain did but wasn’t added to the relay team?
We all know that year after year, there have been athletes who have been exempted from competing in their signature events at the nationals for one reason or another and they still end up competing in that event at either the IAAF World Championships, the Commonwealth Games or the Olympic Games, once they have made the qualifying standard.
I believe rules are rules and the athletes need to adhere to them, but we can’t compare our situation with the US and Jamaica, who have countless athletes that they can rely on to fill their quota, when we only stick to the rules when they are convenient.
We have a very small number of athletes and our success over the years has been in putting the best team possible forward to represent the country. I think we may have erred on this selection because it’s not that Brown didn’t do the qualifying standard.
He did - three times this year.
Brown just didn’t do it when it counted the most - as the BAAA claim - at the nationals last weekend and that may supercede any argument that is presented. But the fact is that he came home and he competed, even if it was just the 200m. For what its worth and just for the record, I still don’t think the decision was the right one.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Bahamas Cycling Federation (BCF) will hold its national championships this weekend out west, while all roads will lead to Governor’s Harbour for the All-Eleuthera Regatta.
The regatta is making a return after almost a 15-year-hiatus, so the organisers must be commended for this initiative to get the ‘Land of Freedom’, which is known for its growth of pineapple, to get back into the flow of things.
While there is so much emphasis being placed on New Providence, it’s so good to see that the islands are doing their part to ensure that some of the economic thrust is placed on the survival of their communities - and regattas are one way to stimulate their growth.
After their participation in the Commonwealth Games last year, I was hoping to see the BCF take a team to the Pan-Am Games. However, cycling was not included on the list of disciplines in Toronto.
The federation will be geared towards showcasing its athletes this weekend as their 22-mile time trials will be on Saturday morning, starting at 8 from Mount Pleasant Village Park with the 71-mile road race to follow on Sunday at 7am from Goodmans Bay.
There should be a lot of excitement going into the Bahamas 42nd Independence celebrations next week.