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Joy and controversy in under-20 100m

SHELDON LONGLEY
Guardian Sports Editor
slongley@nasguard.com

Published: Apr 11, 2012

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HAMILTON, Bermuda – It was expected that the final two events on the track on Saturday night would produce the most excitement for The Bahamas at these 41st CARIFTA Track and Field Championships here in Hamilton, Bermuda.

Whilst the penultimate event lived up to that billing, the final one was full of controversy. Bahamian speedster Jonathan Farquharson was tagged with a false start when many figured it was the athlete on the side of him who moved, and Jamaican Jevaughn Minzie appeared to false start the second time around, but the race was allowed to continue.

In the end, it turned out to be a matter of one false start being called on a particular runner that probably shouldn’t have been, and another one not being called that very well could have been. Minzie went on to finish second behind his Jamaican teammate, in 10.33 seconds. Jazeel Murphy repeated as Under-20 Boys 100m Champion, winning in 10.31 seconds.

In Farquharson’s absence, Bahamian Shane Jones went on to win the bronze medal, finishing in 10.41 seconds. Zharnel Hughes had an identical time as Jones, but was out-leaned for the bronze medal.

“I feel good,” said Jones. “I just wanted to go out there and run a strong race, especially after Jonathan false started. I felt terrible for him because I know he would have run a strong race.

“I thought the Jamaican on the side of me false started the second time around, but when I didn’t hear the second gun, I just kept going. I expected to run good but I didn’t expect to do that well. I just thank God for helping me to get through the race. The 4x100 team is going to bring it. We’re going to try to set a new junior national record for The Bahamas,” he added.

Farquharson was obviously disappointed, but after the race was completed, he said that he had already put it behind him and was focusing on the relay.

“I felt someone moved on the side of me and I went off his initial reaction and that caused me the race,” said Farquharson. “I’ll put this one behind me and just prepare for World Juniors. I felt like I had a good chance of winning, but we still have the 4x100 so I’m looking forward to that. We’re ready and we’re going to bring home the gold,” he added.

There would be no jumping the gun for The Bahamas in the Under-20 Girls 100m though. Anthonique Strachan was in a league by herself as she won going away, in 11.22 seconds, and Carmeisha Cox turned in a stunning 11.54 second performance for the silver medal. Jamaica’s Monique Spencer was third, in 11.71 seconds.

Strachan wasn’t just the defending champion going into the event, she was the defending Austin Sealey award winner. She certainly made her case for another Austin Sealey award, by getting off to a blazing start Saturday night. She was even more ecstatic that she was joined on the podium by Cox, who won the gold medal in the Under-17 Girls 200m in last year’s CARIFTA Championships.

“Carmeisha is a good athlete so I’m very happy for her. She came to do what she had to do and I came to do what I had to do,” said Strachan. “We’re very strong this year in the female sprints and you saw that just now. We’re not taking any prisoners this year. We’re going to dominate the women’s sprints and the relays.”

For a while, Cox was speechless. If not for a strong tailwind, it would have probably been a stunning personal best time for her.

“This is unbelievable. I expected to run well, but I didn’t expect such a fast time,” she said on Saturday. “I’m happy for myself and I’m happy for The Bahamas. We came away first and second in this event. It feels good. We can’t wait for the 4x100. Everything is coming together for us at the right time,” she added.

The only 100m final that didn’t produce a medal for The Bahamas Saturday night came in the Under-17 Girls division, and that might have been a direct result of an injury suffered by Jenae Ambrose during the running of the race. Ambrose appeared to be right in the hunt for a medal but pulled up with an apparent hamstring injury at the 75m mark. Bahamian Keianna Albury finished fourth in that final, in 12.02 seconds. Jamaican Shauna Helps won the gold medal, in 11.66 seconds, Nelda Huggins from the British Virgin Islands won the silver medal, in 11.77 seconds, and Jamaican Saqukine Cameron claimed the bronze medal, in 11.90 seconds.

Behind a strong junkanoo contingent, The Bahamas’ fan section here at the national centre in Bermuda woke up and cheered profusely for their young stars. They had even more reason to cheer after first time CARIFTA athlete LaQuan Nairn walked off the field as the bronze medalist in the Under-17 Boys High Jump.

Jamaican Christoff Bryan won the gold medal with a best leap of 2.05m (6’ 8-3/4”), Clairvon Kelly, of St. Kitts & Nevis, won the silver medal over Nairn based on fewer knockdowns while clearing 1.90m (6’ 2-3/4”). Nairn cleared the same height but settled for the bronze.

After two days of competition, The Bahamas sat in second place with 13 total medals – six gold, three silver and four bronze. Jamaica led the way with 27 total medals – 13 gold, six silver and eight bronze, and Guadeloupe was a distant third behind The Bahamas with four total medals – one gold, two silver and one bronze. The British Virgin Islands was the only other country with a gold medal.

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