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Relay teams improve on season best times

SHELDON LONGLEY
Guardian Sports Editor
slongley@nasguard.com

Published: May 21, 2012

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After improving on season’s best times yesterday, there is now some light at the end of the tunnel as it relates to The Bahamas’ sprint teams qualifying for the Olympic Games.

The men dropped a few tenths of a second but still have a ways to go, while the women were right at the mark at the Brazilian Athletics Grand Prix Meet, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, yesterday. Both finished third in their respective races. The Bahamas’ team of Derrick Atkins, Jamial Rolle, Jonathan Farquharson and Ryan Penn, ran a time of 39.36 seconds, improving on the season’s best time of 39.68 seconds that was done by the quartet of Michael Mathieu, Rolle, Farquharson and Warren Fraser, at the Penn Relays.

The Bahamas’ women’s team of Chandra Sturrup, Anthonique Strachan, Sheniqua Ferguson and Christine Amertil, ran 43.97 seconds yesterday improving on the time of 44.14 seconds that was turned in by the team of Ferguson, Strachan, Nivea Smith and V’Alonee Robinson, at the Penn Relays.

According to the last relay ranking for the Olympics, China holds the 16th and final qualifying spot for men and women, with average times of 39.01 and 43.96 seconds respectively. The top 16 aggregate times in the world, based on the two fastest times achieved by national teams, would qualify for the London Olympic Games. The cut off date is July 2.

“Well there is still time, and that’s the good thing,” said Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations’ (BAAA) Public Relations Officer Alpheus ‘Hawk’ Finlayson yesterday. “The teams are getting faster. They have come around in terms of dropping their times and that is a good sign. We need to have a few more meets where they would be in a position to move up the ladder and qualify. It’s going to be extremely difficult to get in the top 16. The men, in particular, definitely need a faster time. I still feel like we have an opportunity to qualify because we see where some of the top college athletes like Shavez Hart and Trevorvano Mackey are finishing their seasons. I think they will be able to contribute greatly. We’re confident in the team of coaches that were put together, and the ability of the athletes. It’s a deep talent pool. Some tough decisions will have to be made, but we certainly have the talent and the leg speed to qualify. I’m optimist. I think once the right mix is selected, the main thing would be team chemistry and getting the stick around. Once they gel as a unit, they should be fine.”

The Bahamas’ men’s team needs to run around 39 seconds flat, twice, if it intends on representing the country at the London Olympics. In other words, The Bahamas’ team would probably have to run two national record times. The present national record is 38.98 seconds, done by the team of Iram Lewis, Renward Wells, Dominic Demeritte and Sylvanus Hepburn, in Montauban, France in 2000.

Three of the four women who ran for The Bahamas at the sixth and final stop of the Brazilian Athletics Tour yesterday, were on the silver medal winning squad for The Bahamas at the 12th International Association of Athletic Federations’ (IAAF) World Championships in Athletics. That team of Sturrup, Sheniqua Ferguson, Amertil and Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie, ran 42.29 seconds for the silver medal at the Berlin World Championships in 2009. Only Debbie Ferguson was missing from that quartet yesterday.

“I think that Debbie certainly would have made a difference,” said Finlayson yesterday. “I feel very comfortable that this team is going to qualify once Debbie is added to the mix. Once again, the main thing would be to develop team chemistry. These girls are up there in the world rankings and it’s just a matter of time before they are able to get together and produce a fast time. We (the BAAA) have to watch what we’re spending in terms of sending teams to qualifying meets but there are other opportunities that the BAAA are looking at, and once we make those opportunities available, I am confident that the women’s team, in particular, will be able to qualify.”

Host country Brazil won that women’s sprint relay yesterday, in 43.01 seconds, and Colombia finished second, in 43.58 seconds. In the men’s race, Brazil once again led the way, in 38.63 seconds, and Jamaica, missing a number of top sprinters from that nation, finished second, in 38.87 seconds.

Individually, Sheniqua Ferguson finished second in the women’s 100m, in 11.30 seconds, and Bianca Stuart finished fourth in the women’s long jump, with a best leap of 6.52m (21’ 4-3/4”).

Brazilian Rosangela Cristina Oliveira dos Santos won the women’s 100m, in 11.21 seconds, Ferguson was second, and former American World Champion Lauryn Williams, finished third, in 11.32 seconds.

In the women’s long jump, Brazil swept the top three spots with Maurren Maggi winning with a jump of 6.69m (21’ 11-1/2”), Keila Costa finishing second with a best jump of 6.58m (21’ 7-1/4”), and Eliane Martins rounding out the top three with a jump of 6.53m (21’ 5-1/4”).

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