By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
ABACO native Steven Gardiner, now home to enjoy his triumph as the new men's 400-metre world champion, has been named one of the 11 nominees for the International Amateur Athletic Federation's Male Athlete of the Year.
The list was released on National Hero's Day on Monday as Gardiner returned home to begin a series of celebrations with Shaunae Miller-Uibo and Team Bahamas for their performances at the World Championships, held in Doha, Qatar, from September 27 to October 6.
This year's World Athletics Awards 2019 presentation will take place on Saturday, November 23 in Monaco when the male and female world athletes of the year will be announced live on stage at the World Athletics Awards 2019.
"I feel good to be a male honouree for the country, so I'm excited about it," Gardiner said.
"I woke up yesterday and I saw the message from Twitter from the IAAF congratulating me on the honour. I was really shocked. It's a good thing to be nominated. It's a good thing."
The good thing is that Gardiner will be the first Bahamian male to be nominated as the 24-year-old joins a list of 10 others selected by an international panel of athletics experts, comprising representatives from all six continental areas of the IAAF.
"I'm just excited to be a nominee because there are only so many athletes that can receive such a nomination," Gardiner said. "For me to be in that top group is indeed something because not that many people are in the top rankings, so for me to be there is very special."
The nominations of 11 athletes reflect the remarkable range of exceptional performances that the sport has witnessed this year, at the Doha World Championships, and in the Diamond League and in road and cross country events.
The IAAF's Competition Performance Ranking shows that the World Championships in Doha was the highest quality competition in the history of the event.
During the championships on Friday, October 4, Gardiner raced to victory in a national record-breaking performance in 43.48 seconds, a day after Miller-Uibo had to settle for the silver in the women's race in a NACAC Area and national record time of 48.37.
Miller-Uibo, however, was not included in this year's listing for the Women's Athlete of the Year. Although she was undefeated all year leading up to the championships, she was beaten out by Salwa Eid Naser of Bahrain, the new world champion, who posted a world-leading time of 48.14.
"To have me and her doing our thing the way we have been doing it is very special too," Gardiner said. "We are two Bahamians who are doing something special for the country, so we are proud to be Bahamians."
Last year, Miller-Uibo made the list and was in the final five where she lost out to Diamond League triple and long jump champion Caterine Ibarguen of Colombia during the presentation in Monaco.
Joining Gardiner, who also went undefeated all year in the one-lap race and ran the world-leading time of 32.26 indoors over the 300m, on the men's list are:
Donavan Brazier (USA) - won the world 800m title in a championship record of 1:42.34, Diamond League title and four of his five outdoor 800m races.
Christian Coleman (USA) - won the world 100m title in a world-leading 9.76, world 4x100m title in a world-leading 37.10 and four of his five races at 100m.
Joshua Cheptegei (UGA) - won the world cross-country title in Aarhus, world 10,000m title in a world-leading 26:48.36 and Diamond League 500m title.
Timothy Cheruiyot (KEN) - won the world 1,500m title, Diamond League 1,500m title and 10 of his 11 outdoor races across all distances.
Sam Kendricks (USA) - won the world pole vault title, cleared a world-leading 6.06m to win the US title and won 12 of his 17 outdoor competitions, including the Diamond League final.
Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) - won the London Marathon in a course record of 2:02:37 and ran 1:59:40.2 for 42.195km in Vienna.
Noah Lyles (USA) - won the world 200m and 4x100m titles, ran a world-leading 19.50 in Lausanne to move to fourth on the world all-time list and won Diamond League titles at 100m and 200m.
Daniel Stahl (SWE) - won the world discus title, threw a world-leading 71.86m to move to fifth on the world all-time list and won 13 of his 16 competitions, including the Diamond League final.
Christian Taylor (USA) - won the world triple jump title, won Diamond League title and won 10 of his 14 competitions.
Karsten Warholm (NOR) - won the world 400m hurdles title, undefeated indoors and outdoors at all distances, including at the Diamond League final and the European Indoor Championships and clocked world-leading 46.92, the second-fastest time in history.
A three-way voting process will determine the finalists.
The IAAF Council and the IAAF Family will cast their votes by email, while fans can vote online via the IAAF's social media platforms.
Individual graphics for each nominee will be posted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram this week; a 'like' on Facebook and Instagram or a retweet on Twitter will count as one vote.
The IAAF Council's vote will count for 50 per cent of the result, while the IAAF Family's votes and the public votes will each count for 25 per cent of the final result.
Voting for the Male World Athlete of the Year closes on November 4. At the conclusion of the voting process, five men and five women finalists will be announced by the IAAF.
On his return home, Gardiner said he was appreciative of the efforts made by the Bahamas Olympic Committee to honour him, Miller-Uibo and her husband Maicel, the silver medallist in the men's decathlon for Estonia, on Monday.
"We are thankful to the BOC for putting the event on for us at the last minute," said Gardiner. "We're still waiting to see if the Ministry of Sports will do anything for us as well."
The team is expected to visit Albany today and then head to Eleuthera on Thursday. There are no plans yet for a visit to Abaco or Grand Bahama. But they are scheduled to stop into a number of schools.