A disappointed men's 4 x 400m relay team of Ramon Miller, Ojay Ferguson, Michael Mathieu and Alonso Russell.
By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
ALTHOUGH they went out and gave it their best shot, Grand Bahamian quarter-miler Alonzo Russell said the Bahamas team could really have used silver medalist Stevie Gardiner in the heats of the men’s 4 x 400 metre relay at the 16th IAAF World Championships.
Following the team’s dismal showing in London, England on Saturday where they finished seventh in their heat and 11th overall, fingers have been pointed at Gardiner, who stated that after three grueling rounds of the 400m, he was only prepared to run in the final.
But Russell claimed on their arrival in London the week leading up to the opening of the championships, Gardiner made it crystal clear to them that he wasn’t prepared to run with them at all.
“I thought it was selfish because within the first couple of days when we arrived in London, we (Russell, Ojay Ferguson, Kendrick Thompson and Ramon Miller) were informed by him (Gardiner) directly that he did not have any plans to run with the relay team,” Russell said.
“He said that as soon as the 400m is done, that will be it for him. I made sure I let the coaches (Dianne Woodside-Johnson and Rupert Gardiner) know the very moment it was said so that there would be no surprises at the end.”
Russell said the coaches said not to worry bout it because they would handle it.
Without Gardiner, Russell led the team of Mathieu, Ferguson and Miller to a seventh finish in their season’s best of three minutes and 03.02 seconds. That was 11th overall, leaving the Bahamas without one of the eight lanes in the final on the closing night of the championship
Trinidad & Tobago went on to stun the United States of American for the gold. Great Britain picked up the bronze medal.
“Being honest, I think we would have won the heat and qualified for the finals if he ran,” Russell said. “Looking at the numbers, Steve most likely would have shaved two seconds of the total time since his time of 43.89 is far beyond Michael’s season best of 45.-9, Ramon’s 46.1, Ojay’s 46.4 and my own 45.5,” Russell projected.
“Last year at the Olympics, we won the bronze medal with individual season’s best times of 45.25 for myself, Chris Brown’s 45.5, Michael’s 45.4 and Steven’s 44.4.”
That was then and this is now. Another year, a different team.
“We remained positive about it and just went in the race with the hopes of advancing to the final,” Russell said. “I assured the guys that I will pop off and put them in a good place to set the tone.”
Russell, in producing WhatsApp messages that they all shared in their group congratulating Gardiner after he lowered the national record in the semifinal and again after he won the silver medal, said they were hoping that the medal winner would have a change of heart and run with them.
“Even if Steven decided that he wasn’t running the first round with the team, I thought he should have show us some support and attend the relay practices, relay meetings organised by the coaching staff, but he wasn’t there,” Russell said.
Russell said Mathieu sent him a text in the WhatsApp group, but he didn’t reply. Russell said he then tried reaching out to him, but he didn’t get any reply then either. Now back in Florida where he’s based, Russell said it was so unfortunate that they didn’t get the full support of the country’s best quarter-miler.
The Bahamas came into the championships ranked at number nine in the standings with their time of 2:58.49 that they ran in the semis of the Olympic Games last year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Bahamas got the bronze in the final.
The Bahamas have not medaled in the championships since the team of Avard Moncur, Mathieu, Andrae Williams, Brown and Nathniel McKinney (who ran in the heats), got the silver in 2007 in Osaka, Japan.
This was the second straight appearance that the Bahamas failed to get into the final at the championships.
The team of Brown, Demetrius Pinder, Mathieu and Miller clocked 2:56.72 for a national record breaking performance as the Bahamas won its last global medal with the gold at the 2012 Olympics in London.