By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
STEVEN Gardiner's much anticipated race with Botswana's Isaacs Makwala was a "no contest" as he opened his 2018 400 metre campaign with a record breaking and world leading time of 43.87 seconds in Doha, Qatar.
In one of the marquee events on Friday to kick off the 2018 IAAF Diamond League, Gardiner erased his national record of 43.89 that he ran in the semifinal of the IAAF World Championships last year on his way to winning the silver medal. He also broke the previous meet record of 44.19.
As one of three Bahamians competing in the meet, Gardiner, 22, finished the one-lap race well ahead of Qatar's Abdalleleh Hardoun, who did 44.50 to hold off Makwala, a third place finisher in 44.92.
Gardiner, the 6-feet, 2-inches native from Abaco, also surpassed Makwala's previous world leading time of 44.35 that he ran for victory at the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, Australia – an event that Gardiner missed because of his travel documents.
"Based on training and how this year has been going, the 200 is a bit faster now," said Gardiner, who holds the second fastest time in the half-lap race in his new Bahamian national record of 19.75 that placed him behind Republic of South Africa's Clarence Munyai with 19.69.
"Just before I came here, I did a race model and so I'm right on pace. My coach (Gary Evans) told me I would run 43 and I didn't know if I was going to come through, but he was correct."
The two other Bahamians competing in the meet were Donald Thomas and Jamal Wilson in the men's high jump as the two met for the first time since the Commonwealth Games.
Thomas, coming of his fourth place finish at the Commonwealth Games, took third place with a leap of 2.30 metres or 7-feet, 6 1/2-inches, while Wilson, the silver medalist in the Gold Coast, was ninth with 2.20m (7-2 1/2).
Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim, the reigning IAAF World Outdoor and Indoor champion and Olympic silver medalist, soared to victory before the home crowd with a leap of 2.40m (7-10 1/2).
Next up on the series of 14 meetings in the Diamond League will be Shanghai, China on Saturday, May 12 where Gardiner will be back for a repeat performance in the 400m. He will be joined by Bahamian twin tower Shaunae Miller-Uibo in the women's 200m.
Miller-Uibo, 24, will be competing in her first meet since winning the gold medal in the 200m in the Gold Coast. She will face the challenge from two-time world champion Dafne Schippers from the Netherlands.
See Monday's Tribune for a comprehensive report.