By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
It seems as if the International Amateur Athletic Federation will make the World Relays its home in the Bahamas for the next few years.
The biannual event, which gave birth at the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium in 2013 and continued in 2015, will return for the third edition next year and again in 2019 for the fourth time.
Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations president Rosamunde Carey said after she and IAAF Councilwoman Pauline Davis, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Dr Daniel Johnson and Director of Sports Timothy Munnings met with IAAF president Lord Sebastian Coe at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Bahamas was granted the rights to continue to host the relays.
“The IAAF Council met in Rio and they approved the Relays to be hosted in the Bahamas for 2019,” Carey said.
“In November they will make a decision for 2021 and 2023, but we believe that they will grant them to us too.
“We are really excited about that because they had some other countries like Dubai, China and countries in the region. But the IAAF said they were quite pleased with our performance and they had great confidence in us putting on the world-class event.”
As was the case in the previous two relays, the 2017 relays will serve as the qualifier for the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London, England and Carey said they are just waiting on the IAAF to confirm that the 2019 edition will serve as the qualifier for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
What that means is that the top eight teams in both the men and women 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 metre relays at the consecutive World Relays will automatically qualify for the World Championships and hopefully the Olympics.
“We know that the United States will be coming ready to defend the Golden baton that they won last year,” Carey said. “They came here and they dominated the relays and they qualified their teams for the World Championships.
“With the World Relays back here and being a qualifier for the World Championships, we are going to ensure that we put the best teams possible so that we can qualify for the four relays and not have to wait until the last minute as was the case with the women’s 4 x 400m relay.”
The Bahamas was only able to get the men’s 4 x400m team qualified for the Olympics at last year’s World Relays. The other three fell short. But the women’s 4 x 400m team took advantage of the last chance meet at the Blue Marlins to secure their spot, although they had to wait on a court ruling against Russia before they were finally in.
In Rio, while the men’s 4 x 4 team held on for the bronze medal, the women’s 4 x 4 team set a national record while finishing with a world ranking of No. 11.
Carey said she’s confident that the women can make the final at the World Relays and book their ticket to the World Championships.
She said she’s also looking at the resurgence of both the men and women 4 x 100m relay teams and is just as confident in both of them making the final and also qualifying for London.
“The World Relays are in our backyard and this is going to be an opportunity for us to qualify early, so we are going to make sure that we get our best teams assembled so that we can qualify early and not have to wait on the last minute.”