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'Run In Heats Or There Is No Final'

Head coach Dianne Woodside-Johnson and relay coordinator Rupert Gardiner overlook the women's 4 x 100m relay practice before the World Championships.

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

bstubbs@tribunemedia.net

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."

Comments

ThisIsOurs 4 years, 9 months ago

I don't get the big hullabaloo about this...isn't it common practice to rest your best runners for the final? Of course you take the chance that if you don't run your best you don't get to the final...I don't get it ... Do you see how this boy collapses after a race? If he said he needed rest I'd believe him . They need to sort these things out before they travel taking advice from the athletes personal coaches, no "avoidable" issues when you hit the ground

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NassauBoy77 4 years, 9 months ago

It is common practice to rest the runner when you have a team that you are certain will make the finals. The coach was clear. The coach and the team understood that it was highly unlikely for them to make the finals without him. I think he knew it as well.

We look at other teams with a little more star power that ran athletes like Allyson Felix in the rounds and her own individual races.

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ThisIsOurs 4 years, 9 months ago

Yes, I acknowledged that when I said, "you take the chance if you don't run your best you don't get to the final". "But", if the athlete honestly feels they can't do it, I don't know if "winning" at their expense is that important. Maybe I'm not passionate enough about it, I'm ecstatic that we even had a team to run the heats. Steven Gardiner is no Allyson Felix "yet", that girl is seasoned, I don't think I've ever seen her collapse after a race. I'd venture to say Shaunae isn't even as strong as her, "yet". Did you see how Shaunae's legs gave out at the end of the race? The same thing happened last year when she won gold. Gardiner will come in to it, but the country can't force him to break his body just so they can claim one gold medal.

The most important thing for me is you come to this agreement before you even leave the Bahamas with input from their personal coaches. What can you do, what can't you do.

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hnhanna 4 years, 9 months ago

The Head Coach lack the management skills to manage an event like this

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NassauBoy77 4 years, 9 months ago

This head coach has been doing this for a long time now. She knows what she is doing.

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yari 4 years, 9 months ago

I side with Gardiner as it was obvious he had pushed himself to the Max. I also note that Shaunae Miller-Uibo doesn't run in the heats but in the finals and there is no outcry. Maybe Gardiner should run for a country which doesn't treat him like a piece of meat. Maybe the head coach is unsuited for the job and should be replaced.

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NassauBoy77 4 years, 9 months ago

How many relay finals have they made without Shaunae? The same for both of them. I can understand her not running. She ran two individual races. However, given the competition, it would stand to reason that their chances were slim to make the finals without her.

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ThisIsOurs 4 years, 9 months ago

What you're saying is fine, in theory, but I simply don't understand why you'd force an athlete to break their body just to win one race. If we don't have a team that can win, we don't have a team that can win. I find Bahamians in general like to ignore reality and puff us up bigger than we are. If Steven had run, it's likely we wouldn't have medaled anyway. We may not have even reached the finals.

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