By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
Team Bahamas is off to the fourth IAAF World Relays as it takes up its new residence in Yokohama, Japan. And while only two teams will be carrying the Bahamian flag, head coach Rupert Gardiner said they will be very competitive.
Due to the unavailability of some of the female athletes, the Bahamas will not defend its title won at the last World Relays held at the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium in the newly implemented mixed gender 4 x 400 metre relay.
Instead, the Bahamas will be featured in the men’s 4 x 400m relay with the combination of Steven Gardiner, Alonzo Russell, Ojay Ferguson, Andre Colebrook, Teray Smith and Stephen ‘Dirty’ Newbold this weekend.
Additionally, the Bahamas will compete in the men’s 4 x 200m with the squad comprising of Shavez Hart, Anthony Adderley, Cliff Resias, Rico Moultrie, Newbold and Smith.
“The team is still a very good one, although we don’t have our college athletes to compete in more events,” Gardiner said en route to Japan.
“We will have a very good showing because the athletes going are very experienced.
“We expect for Stevie (Gardiner) and Alonzo (Russell) to carry the weight of the team in the 4 x 400m. So I think our team will do well. We also have the men’s 4 x 200m and we have some pretty good competitors there too.”
The heats of the men’s 4 x 400m relay will be held on day one on Saturday with the final on Sunday, while the men’s 4 x 200m will be staged on Sunday with both the heats and final.
However, only the men’s 4 x 400m will be on the calendar of events for the 17th IAAF World Championships that will be held in Doha, Qatar, September 27 to October 6.
Gardiner, who will be accompanied by team manager Dawn Johnson, said the goal is for the Bahamas to make the 1,600m relay final and automatically qualify for the World Championships.
“We want to make the final, qualify for the World Championships and to win a medal, which we are capable of doing with the team that we have assembled,” Gardiner said.
Also making up the Bahamian delegation at the World Relays are Ravanno Ferguson, the first vice president of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations, Michael Armbrister is the team doctor and Dr Ken Bazard is the team’s physiotherapist.
The Bahamas gave birth to the World Relays, having staged the first three editions at the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium in 2014, 2015 and 2017. The Bahamas had also won the bid to host the World Relays in 2021.But last year, the Bahamas Government pulled the plug on this year’s World Relays, indicating that it was not financially feasible to the millions of dollars estimated to stage the event this year.
More than 700 athletes from over 40 countries are making the trek to Japan with 21 countries confirmed to participate in the mixed gender 4 x 400m relay that will crown a new champion in the absence of Team Bahamas.
In 2017, the quartet of Steven Gardiner, Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Anthonique Strachan and Michael Mathieu won the introduction of the mixed gender relay in the final event on the final night of competition.
It was also the first and only final event that the Bahamas won in the first three years of the World Relays being staged in the Bahamas.
The United States of America dominated by winning the Golden Baton as the most outstanding team each year.