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New stipulation expected to create exciting match-ups

Track and field nationals to be held Friday and Saturday in Grand Bahama
  • GOING FOR GOLD: The men’s 400m is expected to be the marquee event once again at this year’s BAAA National Open Track and Field Championships. Grand Bahamian Demetrius Pinder is the three-time national champion in the event. From left to right are Chris Brown, Michael Mathieu, Pinder and Nathaniel McKinney. TNG FILE PHOTO

KELSIE JOHNSON
Guardian Sports Reporter
kelsie@nasguard.com

Published: Jun 20, 2013

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Athletes wanting to compete in their specialty events at regional and international meets must do so at all mandatory championships hosted by the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA), said president Mike Sands.

The new system set in place by the local governing body for the sport is expected to create some exciting match-ups. It is designed to have the strongest teams represent the country at all regional and international meets. It will come into effect this weekend at the BTC National Open Track and Field Championships, which will run Friday and Saturday in Freeport, Grand Bahama, at the Grand Bahama Sports Complex.

“If you want to run a specific event at either one of the regional or international competitions, you must compete in that event here at the nationals,” said Sands. “The best example I can give is if you want to compete in the 400 meters (m) at the world championships, you must run in the 400m here at home. You can no longer compete in the 200m and expect to be selected to run the 400m at any of the regional or international championships. That is the position that we have now taken.

“There has been no negative reaction to this new stance that we have taken because all of the athletes know that this particular practice is the norm all around the world, with all federations. The athletes now will have to determine which one is their best event and if they are ready for it at this point in time. They have to just focus on their primary event. What it also does is give the Bahamian public and the sponsor that level of comfort, knowing that they have seen our world-class athletes compete in their specialties, as opposed to having to read about them when they compete in those events around the world. When the athletes are home, some of them take a different approach to the meet. There has been no negative reaction to this new mandatory element.”

Sands said the BAAA was forced to take this position after taking a look at the 2012 London Olympic Games and other championships in the past. He noted that a number of the athletes, mainly those who compete on the track, venture into other events, especially if they have already met the qualifying standards for particular championships. This practice, according to Sands, is unfair to those athletes who would have ran the desired times at the nationals. It does not allow Bahamians to see the head-to-head competitions and it makes the decision about choosing the team very difficult.

“This is the best position for us and for the athletes. When you look at the depth in the men’s 400m, no one can opt out and decide that they are going to run the 200m just because they might have the fastest time for the year. When they do that there is no head-to-head competition and they are jeopardizing their chances. There has to be head-to-head competition so the best athletes can perform at these international meets, but when you think about it, this only happens in the track events. You don’t see this happening in the field events. You are not going to find a triple jumper deciding to throw the shot putt and expect to still compete in the triple jump.

“We are trying to bring order to the trials and give everyone a fair chance. Also, it helps with the selection process. It doesn’t become subjective anymore; it is very objective because at the end of the day if an athlete competes in his event and the top three meets the qualifying standard, then automatically those three athletes are considered. Once you are on the team, you can be considered for the relay pool. The athletes all recognize that if they want a spot on the relay team they will have to compete in their specialty to give themselves a chance of making the team first. In both relays, the 4x100m and 4x400m, the top two or sometimes three in the event will automatically be a part of the relay squad.”

The BTC National Open Track and Field Championships will serve as a qualifying meet for the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) World Championships and the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Senior Championships.

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