By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
WORLD and Olympic champions Shaunae Miller-Uibo and Steven Gardiner and their World Relays’ mixed relay gold medal teammate Anthonique Strachan were the latest athletes added to the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture’s Legends Walk of Fame.
The three athletes joined a list of 66 who were previously on the pathway on the Mychal Thompson Boulevard that leads from John F Kennedy Drive into the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium during a ceremony yesterday to relaunch the Wall of Fame.
The ceremony was a part of the launch of the 50th CARIFTA Games that will take place at the stadium from April 7-10, making it the ninth time that the top regional track and field competition has been staged here.
Among the dignitaries in attendance were Prime Minister Philip ‘Brave’ Davis, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Mario Bowleg, Minister of Social Service and Urban Renewal Obie Wilchcome, former Minister of Sports Danny Johnson, Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations’ president Drumeco Archer, Lynden Maycock, the chief executive officer of the Local Organising Committee for CARIFTA and Don Deveaux, the proprietor of the Oaktree Medical Center, the title sponsors for the games.
The ceremonies also brought together all six women who have won the prestigious Austin Sealy award for the most
outstanding athlete of the games. They are now all among the list of honorees, whose portraits were beautifully drawn by Bahamian celebrity artist Jamaal Rolle, who got three CARIFTA ambassadors Johnathon Fowlers, Kennedi Knowles and Skinner to Miller-Uibo, Gardiner and Strachan respectively.
The six Austin Sealy winners in order are Maryann Higgs-Clarke, crowned the “Mother” of the games, who won the title in 1978, Lavern Eve, the first two-time winner in 1982-83, Pauline Davis, now the “Dame” of the games, who won in 1984, Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie, who did it in 1995, Strachan, another double champion in 2011 and 2012 and Miller-Uibo, the last to achieve the feat in 2013. For Gardiner, Miller-Uibo and Strachan, they were all delighted to be added to the Walk of Fame.
Having missed the majority of last season because of an injury, Gardiner, the men’s 200 and 400m national record holder, said finally after watching the others make the Walk of Fame, he’s now included.
“Now that I’m a professional athlete and I hold all of these titles, I’m just happy to see myself amongst all of the legends in our country,” said Gardiner, a native from Moore’s Island who is now training in Florida.
With the games coming here for the 50th anniversary, Gardiner said it’s exciting for the country and hopefully he will be able to come back and celebrate with the Bahamian people next year.
As for next year, the trimmed and fit looking Gardiner said his training has been going tough, but he’s looking forward to his return and facing some of the new athletes in the sport as well as his arch-rivals. “I went to see the doctor in July after the World Championships and I’ve been training since October and I haven’t felt a thing,” he said.
“I think I have a new leg, so come January, you should see me in some indoor meets.”
Every year, the 27-year-old Gardiner said his goal remains the same and that is to stay healthy, go to the major championship or games and get on the podium, if not as the champion as one of the three medallists.
As a youngster growing up, Miller-Uibo said she was inspired by Tonique Williams, who had won the Olympics and World Championship titles.
Having achieved that same goal, Miller-Uibo said she hopes that she can be an inspiration to the next great Bahamian female quarter-miler.
On the portrait, Miller- Uibo said Rolle always “does a great job and he picked a wonderful photo. I’m happy for it.”
She was even more thrilled to be able to come home for the launch of CARIFTA and to hear the news of the Bahamas re-gaining the World Relays for 2024, having competed on the last one here in 2017 when she teamed up with Gardiner, Strachan and Michael Mathieu to win the first mixed 4 x 400m relay held at any major international competition.
“I’m looking forward to it. I think CARIFTA is going to be a smash and so I’m looking forward to it,” said Miller-Uibo, who trains in Florida.
“I’m also looking forward to the return of the World Relays. I’m just excited that we are having it here in the Bahamas again.”
After winning just about every title from the CARIFTA to World Indoors to outdoors in the 400m and holding multiple Bahamas national indoor and outdoor records in the 200- 400m, Miller-Uibo said the goal for her next year is to get better, but this time as she drops back down to the 200m. “I just want to have some fun with it,” she stated. “These are my last few years and I just want to go out with a bang. We’re trying some new things. We’re going to drop down to the sprints as well as test out the multis, so we will see how it goes.”
When asked if she’s going to pursue the heptathlon, the women’s version of the decathlon that her husband Maicel Uibo from Estonia competes in, the 28-year-old Miller-Uibo would only chuckle and say: “We’ll see.”
Strachan, who had a great comeback year that ended with her running on the women’s 4 x 100m silver medal team at the NACAC Championships in Grand Bahama, said it motivates her to do more because she can now see that she can be able to achieve more things in the country. “I’m very grateful for this and so much more,” said Strachan, who noted that Rolle did an exceptional job capturing her best angle.
Strachan, who currently trains in Jamaica, said she enjoys being a part of any event being hosted at home and she’s looking forward to coming back to cheer on the future stars as they compete at CARIFTA next year. “To the young athletes trying out for CARIFTA, I just want to say to them, keep going,” she charged.
“Once they have their minds fixed on this, keep it there. It doesn’t matter what anybody else tells you.
“Make it your motivation. When the world gives you lemon, you make lemonade.”
The 29-year-old Strachan, who became the seventh Bahamian to dip under the 11-second barrier in the 100m this year with a time of 10.98, said her goal next year is to get better and hopefully go after the Bahamian national century record of 10.84 that was set by Chandra Sturrup in 2005.