By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
LONDON, England: The Bahamas’ 24-member team will return from the 16th International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) World Championships with a silver and bronze medals, three finalists, a national record and a two-way tie for 30th place on the medal table and a four-way tie for 22nd on the placing table.
Could those numbers have been escalated if the men and women 4x100 and 4x400m relays had performed up to standard? Both the management and the coaching staff feel so. But they admitted that there were some dissensions in the camp that may have played a factor.
Relay co-ordinator Rupert Gardiner said everybody was trying to make him the villain of what happened to the make-up of the teams, but he said it was a decision that he had nothing to do with.
“You can not come out on the day of the meet and put relay teams together,” he said. “If we practice the relay teams and if we go over the relay teams, as the relay co-ordinator, you have to trust my judgement,” he said.
Gardiner said he’s not “going to be the fall guy for the performances of the relays”. He said he’s disappointed in how they performed, but the final decisions were made by the management team that interfered in the team selection.
But Maybeline Miller, co-manager of the team, said the only intervention on her part when she was asked to make some inquiries on why one of the athletes was not going to run in the relay.
Miller admitted that the day before the heats of the relays, she was informed by the coaching staff that one of the athletes (reportedly Steven Gardiner, although she didn’t name him) was not going to run and so she spoke with the individual, who informed her that he was still tired.
“I think about two days after his event, we were told that the athlete was sick and so I checked on him to see how they were doing,” she said. “The athlete said he was sick, but he was recuperating and so she informed the head coach (Dianne Woodside-Johnson) the day before the relays.”
Miller said upon further inquiry, Miller said athlete’s manager had taken him to see the doctor and was advised that he would be given the green light to compete in the final if the team had qualified.
On checking on all of the athletes on a daily basis, Miller said she didn’t sense any dissensions because the athletes all indicated to her that they were doing fine and were ready to compete when the opportunity presented itself.
Woodside-Johnson said they had some major problems that surfaced with the relay teams and although the athletes went out and gave it their best, they didn’t perform as expected and that was because of the dissensions within the camp.
“The girls team was pretty okay. Based on the exchanges, I think that was the best combination at the time,” she said. “We missed out Anthonique because we chose to use her in the 4 x 400m. Of course, the stick didn’t come around to her. I think she would have done a good job.
“The boys 4 x 4, I requested him (Gardiner) to run in the heats, but he refused. I think we would have done better if he was there if he was there, but we still did a lot better, taking two seconds of our time.”
Woodside-Johnson said the matter was referred to the BAAA executives and she’s requesting some changes, which she will outline in her report, about the elite part or professional part of their programme in The Bahamas.
“We must have something in place whether it’s developmental, keeping them together, policy procedures, consequences if you don’t do what you’re support to do. It now has to come into place. I’m going in initiate that through my report and hopefully something will come out of it.”
Woodside-Johnson, however, said that some of the problems they experienced with the relays was due to a lack of a training camp. But questioned if the camp was established prior to coming to England, would everybody have showed up without any consequences in place if they didn’t.
Miller said she is in total agreement that they will have to look at re-instituting their training camp prior to the championships because it would provide the relay teams to get their synergy before they come to compete.
And like Woodside-Johnson, she feels like the BAAA will have to put the proper measures in place for all of the athletes to comply with the rules and regulations. But despite what transpired, Miller said the team did their best under the circumstances.
“I think the team performed to the best of their ability. They went out there and they gave it their all,” she said. “There were some disappointments with the relays, but everybody gave it their best effort. They went out there and did what they had to do.
“We didn’t come out with what we wanted because everybody wanted the teams to get to the finals. That didn’t happen. But we couldn’t ask for anymore. Once they did their best, there was nothing more we could ask for.”
After ten days of an intense competition in what has been an usual championships with so many thrills and spills, The Bahamas was tied with Hungary for 30th place on the medal table, courtesy of Gardiner and Miller-Uibo.
And specifically with Gardiner’s silver in the men’s 400m, Miller-Uibo’s bronze in the women’s 200m and fourth in the 400m, along with TyNia Gaither’s eighth place in the women’s 200m, The Bahamas ended up 22nd on the placing table with Colombia, Croatia and the Ivory Coast.
While The Bahamas didn’t compete on the final day, Councilwoman Pauline Davis-Thompson kept the country in the spotlight as she presented medals to the women’s 4 x 100m relay. It was one of the many duties that she performed throughout the championships.