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Jeffrey Gibson chasing Bahamian track and field history

The Bahamas: Small country, great athletes

Published: May 29, 2013

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On May 15, 1983, Greg Rolle, the bronze medalist in the 400-meter hurdles at the 1978 CARIFTA Games, ran 49.46 seconds in Los Angeles, California, setting a new Bahamian national record in an event that few Bahamians participated in.

Rolle, who attended Texas Tech University, was defeated two months later at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Senior Track & Field Championships in Havana, Cuba, by David Charlton who captured the event in 50.07 seconds. Since then, few Bahamians have performed near to these stellar performances.

The third best Bahamian performer was Nathan Arnett when he captured the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) title for Iowa Central Community College in a personal best time of 50.27 seconds.

At the BTC National Open and Junior Championships in Grand Bahama a month later, Jeffrey Gibson, who had attended Bishop Michael Eldon High School and is currently at Oral Roberts University, defeated Arnett with a time of 50.82 seconds.

Then came 2012 and Gibson led The Bahamas at the North America, Central America and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) Under-23 Championships with a gold medal in the 400m hurdles, tying Arnett’s best of 50.27 seconds. Arnett ran 50.71 seconds for fourth place.

Gibson also won the bronze medal in the 400m with a 46.30 seconds clocking for another personal best. He also participated on the 4x400m bronze medal winning team that included Alfred Higgs, Danzell Forston and Alonzo Russell. There was every indication then that some Bahamian was on the brink of a sub-50 second 400m hurdles performance. Only time would tell.

This season has been great for Gibson. On April 6 in Lubbock, Texas, the former home of Greg Rolle, Gibson made a significant breakthrough that seemed to have gone unnoticed. He ran 49.83 seconds to dip under the 50-second barrier for the very first time. This made Gibson the second Bahamian to smash the 50-second barrier in the event.

At the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) West Regionals at the University of Texas in Austin this past Friday, Gibson made another significant move. He had the best performance in the 400m hurdles at both regionals, running 49.80 seconds, improving his personal best again.

His performance ranks him at number 29 worldwide on the International Association of Athletic Federations’ (IAAF) 2013 list and 10th for athletes from the Central American and Caribbean region. Gibson now stands at the gate of Bahamian track and field history.

His performance at the regionals places him in third place for those athletes who have qualified for next week’s NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon. Only Reggie Wyatt from the University of Southern California (USC), at 49.17 seconds, and Michael Stigler from Kansas at 49.42 seconds have ran faster than him this season.

Gibson has a great chance of being the first Bahamian to win an NCAA 400m hurdles title. He has an even better chance of making the IAAF Moscow World Championships ‘B’ qualifying standard of 49.60 seconds.

After that, he’ll be staring at Greg Rolle’s 30-year-old national record of 49.46 seconds.

Eugene, Oregon, Track Town USA, is a great place, and the competitive NCAA Championships is a great event to achieve such a lofty goal. We wish Jeffrey Gibson and all the other Bahamian participants at next week’s NCAA Championships their very best performances.

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