Steven Gardiner celebrates after winning the men's 400-metre final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
STEVEN Gardiner can now add the 2020 Olympic Games title to his 2019 World Championship crown.
On the biggest stage on the world on Thursday night at the Tokyo National Stadium, Gardiner stormed from a conservative start in the first 150m to pour it on over the last 300m, extending his lead on the home stretch for an easy victory in a season’s best of 43.85 seconds.
Columbia’s Anthony Zambrano managed to put a little daylight between the rest of the field and Gardiner to celebrate with the silver in 44.08. Grenada’s Kirani James picked up his third medal with the bronze in 44.19 – he won the gold in 2012 in London England and silver in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Gardiner, the 6'4" tall Abaconian, was a semi-finalist in his Olympic debut in Rio de Janeiro where he also helped the Bahamas men’s 4 x 400m relay team clinch the bronze medal.
But without any relay duties in Tokyo, the 25-year-old’s sole responsibility was the 400m and the Bahamian national record holder delivered a masterful performance out of lane seven to maintain his world number one ranking.
He became the first Bahamian since women's 400m champion Tonique Williams (in 2004 in the Athens Olympics and 2005 Helsinki World Championships) to hold both global titles consecutively.
Since he lowered his lifetime best to 43.48 when he claimed his first global title at the World Championships in Doha, Qatar, Gardiner had not cracked the 44-second barrier, producing a 44.47 in Hungary on July 6 just before he arrived in Tokyo.
Through the rounds, he got second in 44.34 behind Zambrano’s 44.07 for fourth place overall and in the semi-final, he lowered his season’s best to 44.14 as he won his heat for the third best time overall going into the final.
But Gardiner saved the best for the last and it produced another gold medal performance, keeping the Bahamas’ tradition of earning at least one medal in every Olympics since Frank Rutherford broke the barrier with the bronze in the men’s triple jump in Barcelona, Spain in 1992.
And it will be the sixth time that the Bahamian national anthem will be played at the games in track and field competition, the last time coming in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 for Miller-Uibo in the women’s 400m. Miller-Uibo will be defending her title on Friday for another medal for the Bahamas.
The first overall gold medal won by the Bahamas came in 1964 – in Tokyo – when Sir Durward ‘Sea Wolf’ Knowles teamed up with Cecil Cooke in the Star Class in sloop sailing.
• This story has been corrected to say that Cecil Cooke won The Bahamas' first Olympic gold medal with Sir Durward ‘Sea Wolf’ Knowles.