Head coach Dianne Woodside-Johnson and relay coordinator Rupert Gardiner overlook the women's 4 x 100m relay practice before the World Championships.
By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
HEAD coach Dianne Woodside-Johnson said it was her responsibility to put out the best team possible to represent the Bahamas at the 16th International Amateur Athletic Federation World Championship in London, England last week.
As a result, she took exception to remarks by national record holder Steven Gardiner, who defied her orders to run in the heats of the men's 4 x 400 metre relay on Saturday, more than three days after he opened the country's medal account at the event.
In giving his side of the story after it was reported in the media that he "refused" to run in the relay, Gardiner said he had informed Woodside-Johnson that he was still recuperating from running a blistering 43.89 seconds to lower his national record in the individual 400m semifinal and booked his lane in the final.
Gardiner, 21, said he was also recovering from the flu, but claimed none of that was taken into consideration when he was told by Woodside-Johnson that he had to run the heats to ensure that the team got into the final.
Back home from the championships and reviewing Gardiner's comments, Johnson-Woodside said she will provide a full report to the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations on what really transpired.
But she didn't mince her words on responding to certain things that Gardiner had to say.
"I don't wish to play this out in the media. It will be detailed in my report," she said. "But I thought it was quite interesting about what he had to say. When I did the interview, I told the athlete that if he had not run in the heat, it was highly unlikely that there would have been a final.
"That's when he refused to run. He said I disliked him because I don't coach him, but everybody knows that I am an educator for all of his lifetime and I love all kids. I am a professional and I love all kids. It doesn't matter who I coach, every athlete can attest to the fact that I don't favour anyone."
She said it seemed as if this was Gardiner's way of trying to cover up the reason why he chose not to run in the heats, in favour of running in the final if the team qualified.
Without Gardiner, the team of Alonzo Russell, Michael Mathieu, Ojay Ferguson and Ramon Miller ran a season's best of three minutes and 03.04 for seventh place in their heat and 11th overall, denying the Bahamas a chance to compete in the final.
"The truth was he refused to run in the heat," Woodside-Johnson said.
She also noted that whatever changes were made to the relay teams were discussed with the coaching staff, including relay coordinator Rupert Gardiner, the day before and they then advised the athletes.
"The only change on the morning of the day the relay took place, we discussed the order and everybody agreed, except for one, which was Anthonique Strachan, who really wanted to run the 4 x 1, but we needed her for the 4 x 4," Woodside-Johnson said. "That was the only change.
"Kendrick Thompson, who was mentioned in the article, his name was never considered for any relay, which was discussed by the coaches. I think the truth will come out, everyone will have their say and they will let you exactly what happened.
"That is as much as I would like to say in the media at this time. All of the other things that he (Gardiner) said, which I feel were disrespectful, I won't respond to them at this time."