THE FINISH LINE: Miller and Gibson hit form as Olympic Games approach


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 local sports, highlighting the highs and the lows, the thrills and the spills and the successes and failures.

The week that was

The outdoor track and field season is now in full swing and the athletes are getting in high gear as they prepare for the long trek to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in August.

Over the weekend, we saw quite a number of them perform, including quarter-miler Shaunae Miller and 400m hurdler Jeffery Gibson, as they headed a list of outstanding performances at the Jamaican Invitational in Kingston.

After running away from the field, Miller was able to retain her 200 metres title when she duplicated last year’s feat of 22.14 seconds. The time would have equalled the meet record she established last year, but the legal wind reading of 2.2 was above the 2.0 permitted.

Wind-aided or not, Miller has proven that she is on pace for a fantastic showing in Rio as she attempts to erase the memory of her Olympic debut in 2012 in London, England, when she had to stop running in the heats of the 400m because of a slight injury.

Going into the Games, Miller said she will have a major decision to make - which event she will compete in, either the 200m or 400m. She has already indicated that she does not intend to pursue the two.

This weekend should be a big test for her in Shanghai, China, where she will contest the one-lap race and get an indication of exactly where she is in reference to the rest of the field.

She has already set the stage by posting the world leading time of 49.69 seconds in winning the quarter-mile at the second Chris Brown Bahamas Invitational (CBBI) last month at the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium.

So if her performance is any indication, it would appear as if Miller will be a real contender to get on the podium for another medal, just as she did in picking up the silver at the IAAF World Championships last year in Beijing, China.

If there is any concern, it has to be who will be the next female sprinter to step up. We are still waiting to see what kind of form Anthonique Strachan will be in when she returns at the end of the month from surgery.

But while her concentration is on the longer races, Miller has shown some speed in running 11.19 seconds for the 100m, which has placed her tied with three others for 18th place on the world chart. The closest Bahamian to her is Tynia Gaither in 11.21 for a three-way tie for 21st.

Based on his performance, Gibson is starting to round into top form and has put himself in a position to be a force top reckon with another this year in the men’s 400m hurdles.

Unlike Miller, Gibson doesn’t have any decision to make other than whether he wants to be considered for inclusion in the pool for the men’s 4 x 400m relay.

His time of 48.96 seconds in Kingston is now ranked fourth on the 2016 performance list that is headed by American Johnny Dutch, who beat Gibson for the title at the CBBI when he won with his world leading time of 48.36.

The Bahamas, still looking for its first sub 10-second sprinter since the 2001 World Championship silver medallist Derrick Atkins, has seen Adrian Griffith lower his time to 10.12 in Clermont, Florida, to lead the field. He is now tied for 30th on the world list.

Demetrius Pinder, slowing working his way into form after missing the last two years on the injured reserved list, has showed his versatility in running 20.45 seconds in the 200m, the best so far by a Bahamian this year as he is tied with two others at 40th in the world.

None of the quarter-milers have done anything significant as yet.

Chris ‘Fireman’ Brown, who took time off to get his CBBI off the ground, has the best mark of 45.82 seconds that ranks him at 54, one spot ahead of last year’s rising star Steven Gardiner, whose time of 45.83.

In the field, the Bahamas have four competitors trying to secure three spots in the high jump. So far, Jamal Wilson, who is having a breakout year at the senior level, has the best showing with 2.30 metres (7ft 5 1/2in) for the world’s 4th best this year.

Donald Thomas is not too far behind, tied with six others for fifth place with 2.29m (7ft 5in). Trevor Barry is in another bundle with eight others at 27th at 2.23m (7ft 3in). Ryan Ingraham is still waiting to get into the flow of things.

And Leevan ‘Superman’ Sands is regaining his strength since he went down with a near-career ending injury at the last Olympics. He is tied with two others in 24th spot with 16.63m (54ft 5in). The nearest competitor to him is Latario Collie, who is tied with two others at 48th with 16.37m (53ft 7in).

On the women’s side, long jumper Bianca ‘BB’ Stuart has a best of 6.46m (21ft 2in) which qualifies her to occupy 36th position on the 2016 world leading chart.

This is an Olympic year and all of the elite athletes are looking forward to making Team Bahamas.

The final decision will be made following the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations’ final trials over the weekend of June 24-25.

Veteran Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie is expected to take a break from her coaching duties at the University of Houston to go for her swansong in her sixth and final Olympic appearance, the longest by any active Bahamian athlete.

So let’s get ready for the fireworks.

The week ahead

This weekend, four of the top swimmers vying to compete in Rio will be making a splash at the 2015-16 Arena Pro Swim Series in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, who has led by example so far this year, is the top contender and will be joined by Joanna Evans, Dustin Tynes and Laura Morley.

The quartet, all members of Swift Swimming, will be getting into high gear before they return home for the Bahamas Swimming Federation’s annual Royal Bank of Canada National Swimming Championships, which also serves as the final trials for the Olympics.

The nationals are also set for the weekend of June 23rd-26 at the Betty Kelly Kenning National Swim Complex. And on the hardwood this weekend, all eyes will be on Jonquel Jones as she makes her Women’s National Basketball Association debut with the Connecticut Sun on Saturday.

The Grand Bahamian native fresh out of George Washington University has already turned in an impressive pre-season, averaging 21.7 minutes off the bench with 11.3 points, seven rebounds and 2.3 steals per game as the Sun finished with an impressive 3-0 win-loss record.

We are keeping our fingers crossed that she will have a bright start to a fantastic rookie season.

On a more personal note, I want to thank the Directors of the Bahamian Icon Award for my nomination in the media category. It was a surprise, but I’m humbled to be included in the list with radio personality Chrissy Love and television news anchor Clint Watson.

I am grateful to all of the accolades I’ve received so far and I look forward to the weeks leading into the actual awards night in July. 


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