By BRENT STUBBS
IT IS 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.
AFTER the bright lights and cameras shut down, the Bahamas came up with its best showing in the three years of the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) World Relays.
Maybe it had something to do with the colourful decorations that illuminated inside the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium, which took on a totally different setting as the previous two games.
It was indeed a sight to behold.
With the emphasis placed on all four of their relay teams qualifying for the IAAF World Championships in London, England in August, both the men and women 4 x 100 metre teams booked their tickets.
However, it was quite disappointing that the men and women 4 x 400m teams fell short. With the talent assembled, the two teams were considered to be more of a contender than the 4x1s.
But after they both fell short, the top two performers in each 4x4 teams combined to contest the initial mixed gender 4x4 relay.
And in the process, Steven Gardiner, Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Anthonique Strachan and Michael Mathieu went out and won the tailor-made gold medal for Team Bahamas.
Not taking anything away from the festive celebrations that erupted in the jubilation of the crowd that stayed and cheered for each leg of the historic relay, but the performances could have been better.
It was disappointing that the men’s 4x4 team, despite not having their energiser bunny - Chris ‘Fireman’ Brown - didn’t make the final. There’s no doubt that the “fire” that Brown brings, not only in the call room but also on the track, was missing. Brown opted not to compete as he felt he wasn’t quite ready to give the Bahamian public his best after spending so much time assisting with the hosting of the inaugural Grenada Invitational.
The good thing is that there are some bright young athletes who are preparing to step in when Brown retires. So it was good to see competitors like Elroy McBride and Andre Colebrooke getting their share of the spotlight.
The spotlight, no doubt, was on the women’s 4x4 team that saw Miller-Uibo and Strachan run two exceptional first legs to push the Bahamas out front. However, the difference was the last two legs that resulted in the Bahamas failing to get into the final.
The World Relays for one was held too late and two, didn’t allow the collegiate athletes to compete. There are some other quarter-milers who have the potential to help the Bahamas form a formidable team that can be just as competitive as the men.
Hopefully with both teams competing at the Penn Relays this weekend, they can develop that synergy, although they will be missing Brown, Gardiner and Miller-Uibo, whose Adidas shoe company contract doesn’t allow them to compete in the event that is sponsored by Puma, another shoe company.
With Gardiner, Miller-Uibo, Strachan and Mathieu saving their best for the last, the Bahamas got a chance to celebrate as they won the mixed gender 4x4 relay to bring the curtain down on this year’s event.
The performance coincided with the ambience of the stadium. Together, they made for a wonderful sight to behold on the final day of competition.
THE WEEK AHEAD
From the Mychal Thompson Boulevard of Thompson Boulevard, all roads lead to East Bay Street to the new beach soccer facility at Malcolm Park.
From all indications, the stadium is looking in fantastic shape and should serve well as the host of 15 of the world’s best teams over the next week.
Team Bahamas has secured the 16th and final spot as the hosts and based on their sixth place finish in the recent CONCACAF Qualifier, Bahamians should have another cause to celebrate.
How far Team Bahamas will go will depend on how well the team plays.
This is another level and there is no tailor-made victory because of the home field.
Once you finish the pool round robin, either you win or go home, or in the case of Team Bahamas, win or take the sidelines.
We’re wishing for the best for the team, which comprises of a talented bunch of players who have been working out together locally and internationally for the past year under head coach Alexandre Soares.
Lesly St Fleur is hoping for another exceptional tournament, having scored about 10 goals in the CONCACAF and was the leading contender for the Golden Shoe until he eventually lost out at the end of the tournament.
But he should be assisted by team captain Gavin Christie, Kyle Williams, Nesley Jean, Dwayne ‘Smokey’ Forbes and goalie Ivan ‘Boogie’ Rolle.
During the official welcome ceremony today, Bahamas Football Association president Anton Sealey assured the visitors to the Bahamas that the Local Organising Committee, headed by Jeffery Beckles, and the many sponsors, led by BTC and its president Leon Williams, have done a tremendous job in making sure that their stay here is a memorable one.
For the local residents, there will be no better feeling than watching Team Bahamas hold their own against the visiting teams throughout the tournament that will wrap up on Sunday, May 7.
It might be asking for a little bit too much for a repeat of the IAAF World Relays when Team Bahamas won the mixed gender 4x4 relay. But if Team Bahamas can at least pull off one victory, I think it would be gratifying for our tiny little nation in the big pool of beach soccer.
Let the games begin.