|Coaches to go with ‘A’ team in relay heats|
Guardian Sports Editor
Published: Aug 09, 2012
LONDON, England – Contrary to reports that have obviously been leaked to the media back in The Bahamas, national team coaches ave confirmed that no one has been dropped from the seven-member relay pool, in both the men and women. On top of that, a decision has been made to go with the ‘A’ team in both relay heats anyway, thereby eliminating the possibility of alternates getting on the track altogether.
The heats of both the women’s 4x100m and the men’s 4x400m will run today, the men at 11:35 a.m., and the women at 8:20 p.m London time. The finals of both relays are set for tomorrow.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC), which governs all Olympic sports, actually gave national teams the leverage to have seven members in their respective relay pools right up until an hour before the actual race when the names of the athletes selected for the heats would have to be revealed. The Bahamas’ coaching staff is taking full advantage of that.
“We have an idea of who the runners are going to be to run the heats, but to say that athletes have been dropped off the team in favor of others is totally incorrect,” said women’s Head Coach Dianne Woodside yesterday. “I don’t know where those people who are saying that would have gotten their reports from, but we have made a decision to keep the seven runners who we have here available to us. We actually prefer this scenario to avoid any confusion. I can tell you that we will go with leg speed for the relays in the heats, especially the women. They are on the bubble because they qualified 15th so to ensure that we are in the final, we made a decision to go with the top four runners.”
This latest revelation by Woodside has to be welcomed news to most Bahamians given the disaster that occurred at last year’s World Championships in Daegu, South Korea. There, national team coaches made a decision to go with a line-up for the heats that excluded the three fastest Bahamian quartermilers of 2011. Needless to say, that decision backfired as the team failed to make the final.
This year, the men’s mile relay team qualified for these Olympics as the number eight team in the world, but is regarded as a serious contender for a medal here in London, possibly gold, given the injury of American LaShawn Merritt. For the first time in over 100 years, with the exception of the boycotted Olympics of 1980, the United States didn’t have an athlete in the men’s 400m final at the Olympic Stadium on Monday night.
With The Bahamas having two finalists, and just two spots short of a third making the final, there have been talks of the men’s 4x400m relay team seriously challenging for the gold medal. One thing is for certain, the Americans are more vulnerable in the men’s mile relay than they have been in a very long time.
As a matter of fact, other than 2000 when they were disqualified, 1972 when they withdrew and the boycotted Olympics of 1980, the United States haven’t lost an Olympic final, in the men’s 4x400m relay, in 60 years. That’s a string of 11 straight gold medals, and despite their injury concerns, they will no doubt be a force to reckon with again.
This year, the four fastest Bahamian quartermilers, on paper, are Chris Brown, Demetrius Pinder, Ramon Miller and Michael Mathieu. The alternates are former World Champion Avard Moncur, Andrae Williams and Wesley Neymour.
According to coaches, the ‘A’ team will run the heats though. In the case of Brown, he is set to make a record fourth appearance in an Olympic 4x400m final.
As for the women’s sprint relay team, they qualified in the 15th spot thereby creating no room for error. The four fastest Bahamian women here in London, according to times ran this year, are Anthonique Strachan, Sheniqua Ferguson, Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie and Chandra Sturrup.
Veteran Sturrup won the national title, and barring injury, will most likely get a lane in the heats this morning. Although the ‘A’ team was not revealed up to press time, Sturrup is expected a part of that. Woodside has revealed that Strachan will anchor the team in the heats, and also the final should the girls advance.
According to Woodside, the only scenario that would prevent the ‘A’ team from getting on the track in the heats, and final should they advance, would be injuries. According to reports, there are injury concerns as it relates to the two senior members of the team, Ferguson-McKenzie and Sturrup.
“That is something that we are watching very closely,” revealed Woodside. “Really and truly, things change every day as it relates to the availability of athletes and the order of the team. I can tell you that leg speed will be the main factor though. Except in the case of injuries, we are going to go with leg speed first, team chemistry second and experience third.”
The others members who are a part of the women’s relay pool are V’Alonee Robinson, Christine Amertil and Amara Jones. However, if the ‘A’ team is healthy, none of them would get to run at these 30th Olympic Games.