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Chandra Sturrup: I have run my last race

At 41, ‘Golden Girl’ retires from track and field at BAAA nationals
  • CALLING IT A DAY: Bahamian Chandra Sturrup announced her retirement from the sport of track and field over the weekend. Sturrup, 41, won numerous regional and international medals for The Bahamas. TNG FILE PHOTO

ADRIAN FRANCIS
For The Nassau Guardian

Published: Jun 24, 2013

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FREEPORT, Grand Bahama — It has happened to the best in the world and in the words of the old adage, ‘Father Time has never lost a battle’.

First there were five original ‘Golden Girls’ and now we are down to just one left competing. At the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) National Open Track and Field Championships in Freeport, Grand Bahama, over the weekend, Chandra Sturrup made official what so many had speculated all season. She announced her retirement from the sport of track and field.

Introduced by BAAA President Mike Sands to the packed stadium in Freeport, Sturrup bellowed thanks to the many persons who supported her over the years, including family and friends, and conveyed how happy she was to be in Freeport to make the announcement.

The national record holder in the women’s 100 meters (10.84 seconds) will undoubtedly go down as one of the best and most accomplished track and field athletes in the history of this country. She is easily in the top five.

Sturrup, 41, also has a personal best time of 22.33 in the 200 meters (m), and was a world-class performer in the long jump as well. She is a former World Indoor Champion over 60m, a two-time World Championships bronze medalist, a World Championships sprint relay champion and an Olympic sprint relay champion just to name a few. Sturrup has represented the country at five Olympics Games and eight consecutive World Championships starting in 1995.

In addition, she has advanced to quite a number of finals at the Olympics and World Championships, and has won numerous regional and national titles.

The final race of her storied career turned out to be The Bahamas’ heat of the women’s 4x100m at last year’s Olympic Games. Sturrup ran the second leg for The Bahamas in that race, and the team ran a season’s best time of 43.07 seconds, but failed to qualify for the final.

After that race, Sturrup said that she would announce her retirement when the time was right. Well, the time turned out to be right at the BAAA nationals in Freeport this past weekend.

From her Olympic debut at the 1996 Atlanta Games to now, Sturrup has awed spectators with her speed, her consistency and her drive to excel year after year. She took all of 2011 off, but returned in 2012 with a bang. She made another 60m final at the World Indoors in Istanbul, Turkey, finishing fifth in a season’s best time of 7.19 seconds. She improved her time through the rounds, going from 7.23 in the heats, to 7.21 in the semi-finals, and finally to her 7.19 in the final.

Sturrup has accomplished it all in her career with the exception of winning an individual medal at the Olympics. It bears repeating - at age 40, she was able to finish fifth in the women’s 60m at the World Indoors. After that run in Turkey, Sturrup struggled with a strained groin for the remainder of the 2012 season, but still was able to come back and win another national title in the women’s 100m, and represent the country as a member of her fifth Olympic team. However, after not taking part in any races this year, one got the feeling that she might hang up the cleats for good, and she confirmed that feeling this past weekend.

The former R.M. Bailey High School athlete and alumnus of Norfolk State University, sat in obscurity while giving her retirement speech.

“I have ran my race,” she said. The classy champion came to Freeport to show support for the present athletes and bid farewell for what she did best.

One might forget the success of Sturrup and the national contribution she made to the development of the sport. In 1988, a young Chandra Sturrup competed at the CARIFTA Games in Kingston, Jamaica, and won a bronze medal. That same year in The Bahamas, she competed in her first Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Junior Championships and won the gold. At the World Junior Championships in Sudbury, Canada, later that summer, she failed to make the finals of both short sprints but was strong in the semis.

Sturrup went on to become a two-time Olympic medalist in the sprint relay, and tons of regional and international medals. She was a CAC Games Champion, a three-time Sr. CAC Champion, a two-time Commonwealth games Champion, and a Pan American Games Champion.

Now a high school track and field coach in Florida, Sturrup has found a new love and she would tell you she wish she had discovered it earlier in life. Sturrup is studying Interior Decoration and her eyes turned gleeful when talking about it.

“I just love it and I really should have known this a long time ago and would have done it, but nothing happens before its time,” she said.

Wanting to see the best happen for track and field in The Bahamas, Sturrup performed on the grand stage of life. It might not have been Madison Square Garden, Yankee Stadium, or at Roland Garros, but she ran on the track of champions and alongside the best athletes in the world, and was equally or better than most.

Even in success, she was incognito and preferred not to be publicized. She would rather fit in rather than stand out, but her gift and talent of running never allowed that to happen. This past weekend she said goodbye, but the people said so long and we will see you again.... whatever the next chapter may be!

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