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Brown battled stomach virus at the Penn Relays

He remains optimistic that The Bahamas will have a grand showing at the Olympics
  • Chris Brown is pictured anchoring The Bahamas to a second place finish in the USA vs. The World men’s 4x400m at the 118th Penn Relays on Saturday. Former World and current Olympic Champion LaShawn Merritt, right, anchored the USA Red team to a first place finish. FILE PHOTO

Guardian Sports Editor

Published: May 02, 2012

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A sick Chris Brown ran one of the smartest anchor legs of his career Saturday past at the 118th running of the Penn Relays in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Despite blowing a lead in the highly anticipated USA vs. The World men’s 4x400 meters (m) relay, he maintained a steady pace in front of the former World and current Olympic Champion, and just lacked a finishing kick at the end. Brown didn’t go out too fast, maintained a steady pace throughout and anchored The Bahamas to a second place finish, in 3:00.56. The USA Red team, anchored by LaShawn Merritt, won the gold, in 3:00.15.

Brown, who has been the steady anchor for The Bahamas for the past 12 years, ran the slowest spilt of the four Bahamian quarter-milers on the team. It’s a situation that has some calling for the order to change heading into the Olympics, probably allowing a younger Demetrius Pinder, or even Michael Mathieu or Ramon Miller to take over the anchor duties. Whilst Brown said that he would welcome any change that coaches would deem necessary, it’s important to note that he was suffering from migraine headaches, which eventually developed into a stomach virus, in Philadelphia. Still, he was able to hold off one of the fastest quarter-milers in the world up until the last 150 meters.

“First of all, I just want to give praise and credit to the Lord for allowing me to go out there and perform,” said Brown. “I’m not one to make excuses, but I really wasn’t 100 percent heading into the race. I had a migraine headache up until the day of the competition, and then was dealing with a runny nose and an upset stomach. Right up until the start of the race things started to turn around, so I decided to give it a go.

“I’m very satisfied with the way that we ran. The guys went out there and did what they needed to do. They showed that they are hungry and want to do some big things this year. I think that, collectively, we realized that when we’re 100 percent we could go out there and be a force to reckon with.”

Brown turned in a 45.6 split on the anchor leg, Pinder led off in 45.4, second leg Miller ran 45.1, and Mathieu turned in the fastest split of the four, running 44.5 seconds. As for Brown, the country has become accustomed to him turning 43 and 44 splits on the anchor leg over the past 10 years. He said that his split time this year was one of his slowest ever at the Penn Relays, but he was still able to keep Merritt in his rear view mirror up until the home stretch. Not to mention, Merritt isn’t any pushover. The former World and current Olympic Champion is one of only nine quarter-milers in the history of athletics, all Americans, to run under 44 seconds. With a personal best time of 43.75 seconds, he is the fifth fastest quarter-miler of all time.

“Well, that wasn’t just anyone out there... that was LaShawn Merritt,” said Brown. “I felt him there the whole time. I just paced myself, but LaShawn Merritt is certainly a force to reckon with. He ran under 43 seconds before, and I have never done that so I knew it was going to be a challenge. We have the confidence that once everything goes according to planned, we can run with these guys. This is an Olympic year, and everyone just has to be on the same page.”

As for the order of the team, national record holder Brown said that he has no problem running whatever leg coaches feel that he is best suited to help the team.

“Well, I’m sure we’re going to do some things differently going into the Olympics so that we could keep the competition guessing,” said Brown. “I’m sure that we’re going to play with the order a bit but I’m comfortable running whatever leg I have to. A lot of people will be predicting how they think the line-up should go, but these guys know their potential, and what legs they’re comfortable running. I don’t think one race should determine that I should move, but whatever the coaches feel is in the best interest of the team, I will go with. I’m comfortable running any leg.”

First and foremost, Brown would have to be in the top four at the Scotiabank Olympic Trials, set for June 22-23 at the new Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. The top four runners at the nationals are the ones who would have earned their spots in the relay final, at major international championships such at the World Championships and the Olympics. The country was waiting two years to see the line-up that was assembled on Saturday past though, especially given the obvious coaching error at last year’s World Championships. Pinder, Miller, Mathieu and Brown finally got to run together, and the result was promising.

“Right now, on paper, that is the fastest that we have but you can never count out the younger guys. They’re coming,” said Brown. “These junior guys are ready to perform and can upset any of the senior runners on any given day. I think that it’s important that the team develop chemistry. We had a good mix out there on Saturday and we turned in a respectable performance. We just have to carry that over into the Olympics, and if it’s meant to be (winning the gold), it will happen. Everyone appears to be on the same page now, and that’s a good thing. We’re more focussed than ever before. We have unity now, so hopefully we can get together and represent the country well.”

For three of the past four years, either a coaching error or bad judgement has caused the team to miss out on medals at the highest level. The 2009 World Championships team was disqualified for running out of the zone, last year’s squad in Daegu, South Korea, failed to make it to the final after an obvious coaching error left three of the country’s four fastest quarter-milers out of the heats; and just last month, The Bahamas had to pull out of the 4x400m relay at the World Indoor Championships, after both Pinder and Brown made it to the individual final, and were therefore unavailable for relay duty.

“There’s no doubt that we had quite a few mishaps over the past three years,” said Brown. “It was tough to come home empty-handed but that served as a wake up call for us. We realize that anything can happen, so we’re prepared to go out there and make amends.”

The 2012 Summer Olympic Games are set for July 27 - August 12, in London, England. The heats and final of the men’s 4x400m will be ran on Thursday August 9, and Friday August 10 respectively.

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