|Sands injures knee; finishes fifth|
Guardian Sports Editor
Published: Aug 10, 2012
LONDON, England – The question being asked by Bahamians here in London is: What else could possibly go wrong?
It was a rough night for The Bahamas as the team’s final hope for an individual medal disappeared with what appears to be a major injury, and the women’s sprint relay team fell one spot short of advancing to the final.
‘Superman’ Leevan Sands was in fifth place when he went onto the runway for his fourth jump in the men’s triple jump competition Thursday night. On the step phase of his attempt, his knee appeared to buckle. Not able to maintain his body weight, and the pressure he applied during the step phase, he came crashing down into the pit.
With that, The Bahamas’ hopes for an individual medal all but vanished. But, more importantly, was the question of the health of one of The Bahamas’ most productive athletes over the past decade.
Sands was taken off on a stretcher and transported by ambulance to the medical clinic at the Athlete’s Village, where he was met by his mother and wife. According to reports, up until midnight, they were still awaiting initial test results.
“At this point, we’re just hoping that Leevan is fine and it’s nothing career threatening,” said the manager of the track team Ralph McKinney late last night reports. “The good thing is that it didn’t appear to be dislocated, probably just some ligament damage. No bones were protruding or anything like that. It’s still swollen so as it stands now, they are going to have to wait until the swelling goes down before a MRI or X-ray is done. Right now, he is just resting and spending time with his family.”
Sands was aiming to become the first Bahamian to ever win individual medals at successive Olympics. He was the fourth to make the final of an individual event at successive Olympics. He still ended up fifth in the competition with a best leap of 17.19 meters (m) – 56’ 4-3/4”. American World Champion Christian Taylor, the fourth best jumper of all-time, won the gold medal Thursday night with a tremendous leap, of 17.81m (58’ 5-1/4”), and his former University of Florida jumping partner, Will Claye also of the United States, took the silver with a best leap of 17.62m (57’ 9-3/4”). A pair of Italians, Fabrizio Donato and Daniele Greco, finished third and fourth respectively, with jumps of 17.48m (57’ 4-1/4”) and 17.34m (56’ 10-3/4”).
For Sands, his best jump came on his second attempt. It was on his third attempt, when he initially appeared to injure his knee. After completing a jump of 17.12m (56’ 2”), Sands limped out of the pit. Anybody who knows the Bahamian national record holder though, knows that Sands wouldn’t quite until someone literally carried him off the field. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened.
“It was heart-breaking to see that because I know that he wanted this real bad,” said veteran sprinter Chandra Sturrup. Sturrup and the rest of the women’s 4x100m team were leaving the track after their heat of the relay, when Sands’ injury occurred.
“He was jumping real well, and this might have been our first medal in the games. It’s very disappointing,” she continued. “I’m just hoping that he’s okay and will be able to recover from this. Everyone has really been behind the other on this team and we’ll continue to do that. We haven’t really been looking at the negative stuff that happened. We know that a lot of the members of the team are young and have many more years to go. They can redeem themselves.”
A number of mishaps have occurred for Team Bahamas at these games. Michael Mathieu appeared primed to make the men’s 200m final until he false started in the semis; Shamar Sands was on pace to win his heat when he went crashing into the seventh hurdle, and now Sands, The Bahamas’ final hope for an individual medal, went down with what appears to be a severe knee injury. Up until his injury, he had three more jumps left in the competition, and hopes were high that he would pop a big one, and leap his way into history, and onto the medal podium.
After Sands’ third jump, he was in fourth place in the competition. However, Taylor, who came within four centimeters last year of becoming just the third man to ever jump 18m (59’ 0-3/4”), responded with his gold medal winning leap on his fourth attempt, knocking Sands down to fifth. He remained in that position, even after his unfortunate injury.
The Bahamas has won at least one medal at the past five Olympiads, and now that impressive streak is in jeopardy. All is not lost though. The country’s final hope for a medal lies with the men’s 4x400m relay team. The team qualified first, and will run out of lane six in the final at 9:20 tonight.