By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
ABACO Olympian Shavez Hart, one of the country’s top male sprinters, was killed on Saturday morning in his hometown, sending shock waves through the sporting community, in particular track and field.
Hart, who represented The Bahamas from Carifta Games, the top regional junior track and field competition, to the Olympic Games, the premier sporting event in the world, was reportedly killed as he tried to intervene in a physical altercation between a group of men in the parking lot of a local nightclub in Mount Hope, Abaco.
Hart, who would have celebrated his 30th birthday on September 6, leaves behind his parents Sharmaine and Sidney Hart; a son Chase Hart; two brothers Simardo and Sharmal Hart and a sister, Sarai Hart.
Condolences poured in from the sporting community, led by Minister of Youth, Sports And Culture, Mario Bowleg.
“It is with great sadness that I join the sporting fraternity in expressing heartfelt condolences to the family of the late Shavez Hart, Olympian,” Bowleg said. “Hart, a graduate of Texas A&M University pursued a career in the sport of track and field running under the PUMA brand, on the professional level.
“As a junior athlete, he represented The Bahamas at the Carifta Games and Junior Pan American Games. Hart’s personal best in the 100m, 10.10s made him the third fastest Bahamian of all time in the event. The former national standout, also competed in the 200m, closing his career with a personal best of 20.23s in the event.”
Bowleg, on behalf of his ministry, also extended heartfelt condolences to the executive branch of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA), all other members of the organisation, and the sporting community.
“As Minister, I pray for healing and comfort to the family of the bereaved during this difficult time,” Bowleg said. “May his soul rest in peace.”
Sandra Laing, a BAAA’s executive out of Grand Bahama, noted: “He was such an awesome young man, a mannerly and respectful young man. Truly heart wrenching.”
And coach Vogal Williams, who played an integral role in Hart’s early development, added: “It was sad news for me this morning when I heard about Shavaz being shot. I taught him in primary school at Treasure Cay Primary School.”
Female sprinter Anthonique Strachan, who was competing in Padova, Italy, added she “hopes he’s at peace”. She said it’s just sad to know he died trying to help, knowing that the type of “sweet, kind hearted and caring” individual that he is.
“He’s a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve. He shows minimal emotions. He’s very tender hearted, very soft hearted and I’m still a little shock by it,” Strachan said. “I don’t believe it so much. It was like wow. This was a blow to me.”
Strachan, the Athletes Rep for the BAAA, recalled how close Hart was to Trinidad and Tobago’s 29-year-old sprinter Deon Lendore, who died on January 12 in a head-on collision in Texas where he was working as a volunteer assistant at Texas A&M when he crashed on his way home from practice.
“Both of them were really close to me too,” she said. “I enjoyed their company on national teams and even the (relationship) surpassed that into my personal life.”
In expressing her condolences to his family, including his son and his mother, Strachan said “the gun violence is getting out of hand, There are too many innocent people being killed for no reason. For somebody who live by peace and helping people and this is how they went our, it’s like wow.”
Hart was a four-time Bahamas national 100m champion (2014, 2015, 2016 and 2019) and 200m (2014 and 2015, 2017 and 2018), had a personal best of 10.10 seconds that he posted on April 18, 2015, in Waco, Texas, but he ran a wind-aided 10.08 in Hutchinson, Kansas on May 18, 2013.
Only three other Bahamians have ran faster than Hart. They are national record holder Derrick Atkins with 9.91 from his silver medal performance at the World Championships in Osaka, Japan, in 2007; Samson Colebrooke in 10.01 on July 5, 2019 and Grand Bahamian Terrence Jones on May 27, 2022.
In the 200m, Hart had a lifetime best of 20.23 he did in Starkville, Missouri, on May 16, 2015, which is tied for the fifth best with Grand Bahamian Demetrius Pinder, who did his feat on April 14, 2012, Olympic and world champion Steven Gardiner, also from Abaco, holds the national record at 19.75 on April 7, 2018. Grand Bahamian Michael Mathieu followed with 20.16 from May 6, 2012; Dominic Demeritte did 20.21 on June 22, 2002 and Andrew Tynes trailed with 20.22 from April 10, 1993.
Hart also did 46.43 in Tempe, Arizona on March 21, 2015, the 31st fastest as a Bahamian. The list is also headed by Gardiner with his national record of 43.48.
A graduate of St George’s High School in Grand Bahama, Hart went on to compete for South Plains Junior College, winning a sprint double at the 2012 National Junior College Championships, before transferring to Texas A&M University.
Hart won the bronze medal in the 100m and was a member of the men’s 4 x 100m relay team at the 2011 Carifta Games. That same year, he participated in the 2011 Pan American Junior Athletics Championships where he had a false start in the 100m, but joined his teammates for the bronze in the men’s 4 x 100m relay.
At the CAC Championships in Morelia, Mexico on July 6, 2013, Hart anchored the men’s 4 x 100m relay team of Adrian Griffith, Jamial Rolle and Trevorvano Mackey to the gold. He also ran on both the men’s 4 x 100 and 4 x400m relay teams that picked up the bronze medal at the Pan Am Under-20 Championships in Miramar, Florida, on July 24, 2011.
Hart ran the third leg on the men’s 4 x 400m relay team of Michael Mathieu, Alonzo Russell and veteran Chris “Fireman” Brown that secured a silver at the World Indoor Championships in Oregon, Portland on March 20, 2016. And he was on the men’s 4 x 100m relay team that finished fifth at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland on August 2, 2014.