|Teams named for Penn Relays|
Guardian Sports Reporter
Published: Apr 20, 2012
For years, The Bahamas has struggled to put a men’s sprint relay team together, showing an inability to qualify for senior meets. With the Olympic Games rapidly approaching, coach Henry Rolle, head coordinator for the country’s relay squads, believes that it is going to be an uphill battle for that particular relay team if it wishes to qualify for the London Games.
“I am a little disappointed in the performances of our men’s 100-meter (m) runners right now,” said Rolle. “We are a bit under average. We don’t have a guy that can run 10.20 (seconds) or faster in the 100m. It doesn’t matter who you assemble and how well you are organized, if people aren’t running fast, it accounts for the performances of the relay.”
The governing body for track and field in the country, the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA), will field three teams at the upcoming Penn Relays, April 26-28 at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – the men’s 4x100m team, the women’s sprint relay squad and the men’s 4x400m squad. Jamial Rolle, Jonathan Farquharson, Derrick Atkins and Michael Mathieu were named as members of the men’s sprint relay squad with Warren Fraser and Demetrius Pinder as alternates.
Rolle said: “The reason why we went with Warren Fraser is because his team will be there already. It would not have cost us any money. We figured that the condition that he is in, compared to the other guys, they are pretty much comparable but there was no expenses there for us when it came to Warren. Demetrius has been sprinting very well and Michael is running very well in the sprints for a quarter-miler.
“The men’s 4x100m team has a pretty good chance. I think with Jonathan Farquharson, he is an upcoming bright junior and we were not going to discriminate. We are going to use the best talent available at this point and time. A lot of people haven’t raced or aren’t running as fast as they should right now when it comes to the men’s 4x100m, so we have to start at some place and after this one, we will see where we are at, and hopefully some other guys will step up.”
The women’s team will include Chandra Sturrup, Sheniqua Ferguson, Nivea Smith, Anthonique Strachan and Tynia Gaither. Rolle believes that this is a good mix of youth as well as experience. National record holder in the 200m Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie was not named. She is not available due to personal reasons. The last invitation was sent to Shaunae Miller who has run 11.41 seconds so far this season. Additionally, Miller is expected to also compete with her high school relay teams, the St. Augustine’s College (SAC) Big Red Machine, at the Penn Relays. SAC under-20 girls’ 4x100m and 4x400m squads were awarded the privilege to compete at the prestigious Penn Relays in the high school segment of the meet after winning those events at the Scotiabank National High School Track and Field Championships, in March.
“We went with the best available ones,” Rolle said. “I feel real comfortable with the team. Chandra just competed indoors, Sheniqua opened up her first race with 22.64, and Anthonique is 11.22 (in the 100m) and 22.85 (in the 200m). Nivea is coming around where she has run 23.30 (seconds) and Tynia just ran a pretty impressive time last week, so they have some experience. These are the females who have competed to this point who give us the best opportunity to contest a relay. Hopefully when we get ready to run another one Debbie will be available and some other females will step up at the time.
“I won’t say that our chances are that great (in terms of winning a medal at the Olympics). The thing is, when those girls won the medal we had so many ladies that ran under 11 seconds and definitely that makes a strong relay team. We don’t have that many ladies who are running under 11 seconds. In fact, we don’t have anyone right now. There has to be a time when we make a transition from what happened back then to what is happening now. These young ladies are it and this is their time. Right now, we only have Debbie and Chandra from the old guard and these young ladies are stepping up. I think that they are going to get better as time goes on, but we have to start at some point. Some time Debbie and Chandra are going to retire and these young ladies are going to fill in, so they are just going to get their opportunity early.”
The men’s 4x400m relay team is expected to feature names such as Chris Brown, Pinder, Mathieu and Ramon Miller.
The recently released top performance lists by the international governing body for track and field, the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF), has Strachan ranked fourth in the world with a time of 11.22 seconds. Shaunae Miller and Ferguson-McKenzie’s names are also among the top contenders. So far Miller has posted a time of 11.41 seconds on the season and Ferguson-McKenzie has a season’s best time of 11.44 seconds.
In the women’s 200m, Sheniqua Ferguson sits on top of Miller with the second fastest time, 22.64 seconds. Miller has a best of 22.70 seconds and Strachan has posted a time of 22.85 seconds this year. Smith joins the crew with a time of 23.35 seconds.
Mathieu is the sole Bahamian male to appear on the men’s 100m chart. He clocked 10.30 seconds at the end of March. Pinder is leading the way in the 200m for The Bahamas. He is third in the world with a time of 20.23 seconds. Fraser is there as well, with a time of 20.85 seconds.