THE FINISH LINE: Miller, Gardiner crack top 10 in the final standings for 2016


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.

What a way to end 2016 and start 2017.

Track and Field News, considered the Bible of the sport, has released the final standings for 2016 and quarter-milers Shaunae Miller and Steven Gardiner were among the top 10 in the women’s and men’s divisions respectively.

By virtue of her thrilling diving victory at the Olympic Games in August in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Miller emerged on top of the women’s one-lap chart with arch-rival American Allyson Felix, who had to settle for silver at the games sitting in second place. Jamaican Stephanie MacPherson, the winner of the Golden League title, took third place over her compatriot Shericka Jackson, who clinched the Olympic bronze.

In the process, Miller switched places with Felix from the final standings a year ago when the American pulled away from start to finish to snatch the gold at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China.  In that impressive race, Miller finished second and ended up in the rankings in that same position with American Francena McCorory coming in third.

Miller, by the way, was just the second Bahamian to emerge on top of the standings in the event. She followed national record holder Tonique Williams, who sat on top of the world in 2004 after winning the Olympic gold in Athens, Greece and went on to secure the IAAF Golden League title. Williams, who started out at No.4 the year before in 2003, dropped to No.2 in 2005 despite winning the IAAF World title and consequently ended up fifth in 2006 as her career came to a close.

Miller, 22, by no means is leaning towards retirement. But she’s planning on getting married to Maicel Uibo from Estonia this year and will have all eyes on her as she heads into the IAAF World Championships in London, England in August. She has indicated that she wants to pursue the 200/400 double, which she was denied in Rio because the coaching staff said she never made it clear to them before the games that she wanted to do it.

Her performance in the 200m last year wasn’t that bad either. At one time she had the fastest time in the world when she broke veteran Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie’s long standing national record. However, she slipped down the ladder to third going into the games. But because she didn’t contest the event at the Olympics, she didn’t make it in the top 10 standings.

So with those lofty goals ahead of her, the question is: Can Shaunae Miller duplicate the feat, not necessarily the dive, in becoming the first Bahamian since Tonique Williams to win back-to-back Olympic and world titles? It’s a tall order, but at 6-feet, 2-inches, probably the tallest competitor in the field, look for Miller to make an impression on the international circuit this year.

At the same time, although he didn’t get into the final at the Olympics, Abaco native Steven Gardiner closed out the year ranked at No.8 in the men’s one-lapper. Olympic champion Wayde van Niekerk, who blew away the field in Rio to erase American Michael Johnson’s world record, headed the list. The South African was trailed by American LaShawn Merritt and Kirani James from Grenada, the silver and bronze medallists respectively in Rio.

Gardiner, 21, retained the same position that veteran Chris ‘Fireman’ Brown held last year. Brown, the most decorated Bahamian of all-time, didn’t make the top 10 spot last year as he starts to wind down his illustrious career. From 2005 when he got his breakthrough at No.4, Brown only missed making the standings in 2006 and 2013. Not bad for the Eleuthera native, who is contemplating retirement in the next year or two.

For those who may not remember, Avard Moncur became the first Bahamian to crack the top 10 when he sat in the number one spot in 2001 as the IAAF world champion. He closed out his career by finishing fifth in 2002.

And on the Track and Field News website, Grand Bahamian Donald Thomas was featured in a photo in the high jump after he shocked the world as he made the transition from one sport to another, jumping in his basketball shoes in 2006 and going on to become the second Bahamian world champion in 2007 in Osaka, Japan. 

No other Bahamian cracked the top 10 but I’m sure with the momentum from 2016, the Bahamian athletes will be inspired to come out in 2017 and make their presence felt.


Congratulations to Purdue University’s hurdler Devynne Charlton and quarter-miler Kinard Rolle for being named the Big Ten women and co-men Athlete of the Week on Wednesday following their performances at the Gene Edmonds Open.

Rolle shared the honours with Anaguan Peterson as they helped the Boilermakers make history by becoming the first school to achieve the feat.

Charlton, back in action after missing the outdoor season last year with a back injury, got her first Big Ten Track Athlete of the Week four days after winning the 60-metre dash and 60-metre hurdles. She broke the school record in the 60m with a time of 7.30 seconds, edging previous school-record holder Savannah Carson by 0.09 of a second in the final.  

Charlton’s time ranks third in the country, best in the Big Ten and was the fastest time in the nation for the week. She then ran the hurdles final just minutes later and won with a time of 8.14 seconds. That time is second in the country this year and was the fastest nationally over the weekend. That time is faster than any other woman in school history has run and 0.17 of a second off her PR. Despite earning the Big Ten Track Athlete of the Championships award at the indoor meet last year, Charlton had never earned a weekly honour. She is Purdue’s first woman to win a weekly award since Carson on December 16, 2015.

Rolle’s track athlete of the week honour comes on the heels of a nation-leading mark in the 400m dash. The junior won the race on Purdue’s 200m flat track with a time of 47.89 seconds, which converts to 47.14 seconds. That time is 0.22 of a second better than anyone else in the country this season. Rolle also ran a leg of the winning 4x400-metre relay team, which finished with a time of 3:15.27. That time converts to 3:12.21, which ranks fifth in the country. Rolle is Purdue’s first man to win the conference track athlete of the week since Okokhare Ikpefan, who picked up the honour on December 15, 2014. Coincidentally, Rolle ran the second leg of Saturday’s 4x400m relay and handed off to Ikpefan.

If these performances are any indication, the Bahamian connection at Purdue will have a fantastic year under the coaching of Lonnie Greene and his assistant Norbert Elliott.



With top seed Baker Newman not available to compete because of school commitments, Philip Major Jr has been added to the Bahamas men’s team heading to Miami, Florida next month to take on Venezuela in the first round of the American Zone II Davis Cup tie.

Major, 20, may not be able to fill the shoes of Newman, the two-time champion of the Giorgio Baldacci National Open that served as the trials for the team, but he will complement Spencer Newman and player/coach Marvin Rolle, the number two and three finishers respectively, who will move up to the top two spots.

It’s not known as yet who will fill the final spot as Kevin Major Jr, the fourth member of the team, won’t be available as well as he’s just enrolled in Seminole State Junior College. But whoever is added, either Cereno Rolle or Justin Lunn, will bring some synergy to the team.

So, it seems as if the Bahamas will still have a formidable team to take on Venezuela in a bid to either stay in zone II or move up to zone one next year. Only time will tell as the tie, slated for February 3-5, draws near.


I was really shocked when I got the news on Wednesday morning that Alexio (Newman) Johnson had passed away.

“Bob,” as he was affectionately called, was another talented young basketball player who resided in Fox Hill. Following a car accident he was involved in last month, he succumbed to his injuries in the Intensive Care Unit of Princess Margaret Hospital.

I’ve had the pleasure of coaching him when he played for the Macedonia Baptist Church Warriors in the Baptist Sports Council’s basketball league and he always brought a high level of intensity to the game. He was considered a “Charles Barkley” type forward who always went out and gave you 100 per cent on the court. He was always possessed with winning.

The 23-year-old also played in the Atlantis Basketball League, the last time with Security. On behalf of all of the coaches and players whom he would have played with, I want to take this opportunity to offer condolences, mine personally as well, to Bob’s family. He will be missed. May his soul rest in peace.


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