By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
DOHA, Qatar — Mike Sands, the newly elected North American, Central American and Caribbean president, couldn’t ask for a better transition into office.
He officially took over yesterday following the completion of the IAAF’s 17th World Championships and a successful showing by athletes from the NACAC region over the past 10 days of intense competition at the Khalifa International Stadium.
From a local perspective, Sands was joined in the celebrations for Steven Gardiner, who won the men’s 400 metres gold medal in a national record breaking performance and a silver medal from Shaunae Miller-Uibo, who also established new NACAC area and national records.
They both are now ranked with the sixth best performances of all-time on the world list and helped the Bahamas to finish 15th on the medal table and tied for 26th with Italy and Switzerland on the placing table.
“It’s very rewarding and very satisfying,” said Sands, as he greeted Gardiner after he received his medal on Saturday night.
“I’m very proud of Stevie. I think the entire Bahamas should be very proud of Stevie.
“He’s been going this way for a long time and his day has finally arrived. So we should celebrate him.”
In regards to Miller-Uibo, who fell short against Salwa Eid Naser, the world champion from Bahrain, Sands said her performance was also outstanding.
“At the end of the day, it was the fastest time she ever run and once she did her best, you can’t ask for more,” said the former Bahamian 400m national record holder.
“On that particular day in that particular race, Naser was just better. But Shaunae did her best and we too should celebrate what she did in keeping the Bahamas on the whole stage.”
At the end of the day, Sands said he’s proud to be a Bahamian.
As for NACAC, Sands said the region certainly made its presence felt throughout the championships, winning more than 20 world titles, led by the United States’ topping the chart with 14 gold and Jamaica adding three in their third place finish. The Bahamas ended up 15th place overall on the medal table and was tied with Italy and Switzerland on the placing table in 26th, just behind Estonia, the home of Miller-Uibo’s husband, Marcel Uibo, for 25th place. Estonia, however, was tied with Ukraine for 21th with two silver medals each.
Among NACAC’s success were sweeps in the men’s 100m, 200m and 400m and long jump and women’s 200m as well as the 100m and 400m hurdles.
American mother-of-two Nia Ali ran a personal best of 12.34 to upset world record holder Kendra Harrison (12.46) in the high hurdles in the 100m race and American Dalilah Muhammed lowered her world record to 52.16 to take the title in the women’s 400m hurdles.
Jamaica ran a world leading time of 41.44 to snatch the women’s 4 x 100m crown and the Americans did the same in 37.10 for the men’s title. However, the USA claimed both crowns in the 4 x 400m with the USA running 3:18.92 for their world leading time in the women’s race and their men duplicated their feat in taking their title in 2:56.69 with Jamaica securing the silver in 2:57.90 for a season’s best. The USA also set a worlds record in 3:09.34 to win the mixed gender 4 x 400m relay over Jamaica (3:11.78) with their national record.
While the Bahamas didn’t have any teams in the relays, Sands said the performances of Gardiner and Miller-Uibo shared in the success of the region with their individual successes.
“What I’m most impressed with was the men’s 400m,” Sands pointed out. “We had six competitors from NACAC. That says a lot for our area.”
Only the second Bahamian to clinch the one-lap title following Avard Moncur, the 2001 champion, Gardiner triumphed over Colombia’s Pan American Games’ champion Anthony Zambrano and American world number two leader Fred Kerley.
As he ventures into his new administrative role, taking over from Victor Lopez from Puerto Rico, Sands said the road ahead will not get any easier as they continue to assist the athletes and the member associations.
“We’ve been having a lot of discussion about moving the office to the Bahamas,” Sands said. “I had my first official meeting with my NACAC executives (on Saturday) and we are discussing the way forward and to outline the plan that I have to share with them.”
In sharing some of their initial plans for NACAC, Sands said they want to have more area meets that will provide more competition for the athletes in a continental international style competition.
He also indicated that NACAC will play an important role in improving the level of competition at the CARIFTA Games, the top regional junior competition that will be staged in the Cayman Islands over the Easter holiday weekend in 2020.
For now, though, Sands just wants to enjoy the success of the athletes as they make his transition as the new president a memorable one.