Fourth relay team qualifies for World Championships
Guardian Sports Editor
Published: Jul 08, 2013
Shavez Hart is now the second fastest Bahamian ever, and Cache Armbrister joined him as a qualifier in the 100 meters (m) for the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) World Championships, but the real story coming out of Morelia, Mexico this past weekend was the accomplishment of the men’s sprint relay team which smashed a 13-year-old national record not once, but twice, at the 24th Senior Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Track and Field Championships.
In so doing, they qualified for the IAAF World Championships, helping The Bahamas make history with four teams qualified to compete. This is the first time in the history of athletics that four Bahamian relay teams have qualified to represent the country at the world’s biggest meet for athletics – be it the world championships or the Olympics.
That men’s sprint relay team of Adrian Griffith, Jamial Rolle, Trevorvano Mackey and Shavez Hart ran a blazing 38.92 seconds in the heats on Friday to qualify for the final with the fastest time and erase the old record of 38.98 seconds, and then the same quartet, in that order, came back in the final on Saturday to lower that national record to 38.77 seconds and win the gold medal. In total, The Bahamas finished with eight medals - two gold medals, three silver and three bronze, to finish fourth overall at the biennial championships. Host country Mexico won the meet with 47 total medals – 17 gold, 19 silver and 11 bronze, Jamaica was second with 21 total medals – 11 gold, six silver and four bronze, and Trinidad and Tobago rounded out the top three with 13 total medals - five gold, four silver and four bronze.
As for that blazing 4x100m final on Saturday, two of The Bahamas’ four fastest runners this season weren’t even in the race – Derrick Atkins and Warren Fraser. Be that as it may, lead-off runner Griffith said from Mexico that they certainly weren’t going to be denied. He gave thanks to God for blessing them with the talent and ability to gel and work together as a team, and also sent a special thanks to their family, friends and all of the Bahamian supporters.
“It’s been a long time coming and the record would have gone soon, but it feels so good to have double icing on the cake - breaking the record and winning the gold medal,” said Griffith. “Injury played a role for me at the nationals, and I promised myself that I wouldn't give up because my struggle was painful and long. Running a relay with these guys was tremendous. I always give a pep talk and we were ready for war. Practice was on point so it wasn't a surprise to us; we just had to execute. Our heat was scary because passing off to Jamial, I was clotheslined by Puerto Rico’s second runner because he thought I said reach to him and that threw my momentum off. Be that as it may, we fought hard and we came out with ‘W’. That feeling of hearing the national anthem on the podium and getting that gold medal placed around our necks was awesome,” added Griffith.
The Jamaican team of Oshane Bailey, Andrew Fisher, Jermaine Brown and Jason Livermore, in that order, finished second in 38.86 seconds, and Trinidad’s team of Jamol James, Ayodele Taffe, Jereem Richards and Emmanuel Callender, in that order, won the bronze medal in 39.26 seconds.
The sprint team’s gold medal on Saturday wasn’t the only one for the country this past weekend.
For the first time in the history of the championships, The Bahamas has a champion in the women’s triple jump. Andros native Tamara Myers won a shocking gold in that event as she leapt 13.18m (43’ 3”). Ayanna Alexander, from Trinidad, finished second with a best jump of 13.17m (43’ 2-1/2”), and Liliana Hernandez, from Mexico, won the bronze medal, with a leap of 12.90m (42’ 4”). Myers also finished seventh in the long jump with a best leap of 5.79m (19’). Bianca Stuart, who set a championships record in that event two years ago, had to settle for the bronze this time, with a best leap of 6.42m (21’ 0-3/4”). Jamaican Francine Simpson won the gold medal with a best leap of 6.49m (21’ 3-1/2”), and Arantxa King, from Bermuda, won the silver medal with a best leap of 6.45m (21’ 2”).
The Bahamas’ three silver medals came from Jamal Wilson in the men’s high jump, Jeffery Gibson in the men’s 400m hurdles and The Bahamas’ men’s 4x400m relay team.
Wilson cleared 2.22m (7’ 3-1/4”) for the silver behind Jamaican Darrell Garwood, who cleared the same height but won on fewer knockdowns. Both Donald Thomas and Ryan Ingraham failed to clear a height. Ingraham entered the competition at 2.25m (7’ 4-1/2”), in going for the gold, but failed to clear that height.
In the men’s 400m hurdles, the defending champion Gibson posted a time of 49.94 seconds for the silver medal behind Emmanuel Mayers from Trinidad, who won in 49.72 seconds. Gibson ran 50.57 seconds in the heats. Amaury Valle, from Cuba, was third in the final, in 50.02 seconds.
In the men’s 4x400m relay, The Bahamas’ team of LaToy Williams, Ojay Ferguson, Gibson and Wesley Neymour, finished second, in 3:02.66. Trinidad won the gold medal in 3:02.19, and the Dominican Republic was third in 3:02.82.
The Bahamas’ three bronze medals came from Stuart in the women’s long jump, and both of the country’s female relay teams. The 4x100m relay team of Tylar Carter, Armbrister, Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie and Nivea Smith ran 44.08 seconds for the bronze. Jamaica won the gold in 43.58, and Trinidad the silver, in 43.67. In the women’s long relay, the team of Shakeitha Henfield, Lanece Clarke, Miriam Byfield and Amara Jones, ran 3:36.41 for the bronze. Trinidad won in 3:30.64, and Mexico was second, in 3:34.52.
Individually, Hart was fourth in the men’s 100m, in 10.23 seconds, and Warren Fraser was eighth, in 10.30 seconds. Hart ran a personal best time of 10.16 seconds in the heats, qualifying ‘B’ standard for the world championships and becoming The Bahamas’ second fastest Bahamian sprinter ever behind Atkins.
“It was just an honor to be apart of this great team,” said Hart from Mexico yesterday. Hart also anchored that very fast Bahamian sprint relay team which won the gold medal and qualified for the world championships in the process.
“Going into the relay we all focussed on what we had to do on each leg and we ended up coming out with the victory,” he said. “At the world championships, we are all expecting to finish the race healthy and come out with a medal.”
Griffith said that after breaking the record in the heats, they just wanted to come out of the final healthy and with the gold medal around their necks.
“The weather was very cold and there were some strong winds but we just focussed on what we had to do,” said Griffith. “There were a few stumbles, but Hart just ran hard through the line and we still broke the record. Our new project is getting to the world championships in Moscow, and making it to the final. Anything goes after that. We are great as a unit and this is our first time running together so once we get more meets and the chemistry more grounded, we will be a team to be reckoned with,” he added.
The 14th IAAF World Championships are set for August 10-18, in Moscow, Russia.
More individual finishes from Morelia, Mexico, saw Armbrister finishing fifth in the women’s 100m in 11.42 seconds. She ran a personal best time of 11.35 seconds in the heats, going under the ‘B’ qualifying standard for the world championships. Ferguson-McKenzie was seventh in the final in 11.85 seconds, after running 11.42 in the heats.
In the women’s 800m, Teshon Adderley was fifth in a personal best time of 2:06.65. Rudon Bastian was sixth in the men’s long jump with a best leap of 7.55m (24’ 9-1/4”), and Cameron Parker finished seventh in the men’s triple jump with a best leap of 15.67m (51’ 5”).
Both Clarke and Jones failed to make the final of the women’s 400m as they finished 11th and 15th in times of 54.38 seconds and 54.63 respectively, and both Williams and Neymour failed to medal in the men’s 400m final as Williams didn’t finish the race and Neymour false started. Williams ran 46.50 seconds in the heats, and Neymour ran 46.66 seconds in his heat.
Nivea Smith qualified for the final of the women’s 200m as she ran 23.77 seconds in the heats, but for reasons unknown, she was a no-show for the final.
In the men’s 200m, Mackey failed to qualify for the final as he ran 21.01 seconds in the heats. He later said on Facebook that his “legs were dead” for the 200m after running two strong rounds of the men’s 4x100m relay.
The 27-member team is expected home some time today.
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