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Female quarter-milers ready to prove naysayers wrong

SHELDON LONGLEY
Guardian Sports Editor
slongley@nasguard.com

Published: Aug 15, 2013

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MOSCOW, Russia – There was a rumor being circulated, whether it was true or false, that the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) was contemplating leaving the women’s 4x400 meter (m) relay team at home, given the organization’s financial crisis and the fact that the team just barely qualified at the Penn Relays earlier this year with the services of veteran quarter-miler Christine Amertil, who is now injured and is no longer a part of the team.

Be that as it may, the team is here and ready to compete at these 14th International Association of Athletic Federations’ (IAAF) World Championships.

The women’s 4x400m relay team is comprised of Lanece Clarke, Amara Jones, Shakeitha Henfield, Miriam Byfield and Cottrell Martin.

None of the girls has ran under 53 seconds this year, and as a result, there are some who said this team will “embarrass” the country when the heats of the event roll around on Friday morning.

“Well, I have been running long enough to know that people on the outside will continue to say things,” said Henfield yesterday. “They don’t know what we go through in terms of the training and the work. The thing is, we’re hungry, so we’ll have an added advantage. We came here with a point to prove, and I think we’ll get the job done.”

National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Indoor Champion Miller is the only Bahamian quarter-miler to run under 53 seconds this year, and it has already been announced that she won’t be a part of the women’s 4x400m relay pool this year. Henfield is reminding Bahamians everywhere that they qualified for the world championships in April without Miller, and whereas they would love to have her as a part of the team, they’ll just have to manage with what they have.

“It is what it is,” said Henfield yesterday. “We qualified and that’s the important thing. We have a team that wants to run and go out there and represent the country. I’m sure the coaches are going to use the best four that’s available. We’re going to go out there and do our best. That’s all we could do.”

Henfield said that collectively they believe that they could get the job done. It took a time of 3:26.29 to get into the event’s final at the London Olympics last year, and 3:26.01 at the Daegu World Championships in 2011. The national record in the event is 3:29.53, done by the quartet of Amertil, Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie, Sasha Rolle and Henfield at the 2009 Penn Relays. The Bahamas hasn’t run under 3:30 in the women’s 4x400m since. Clarke is the only quarter-miler on the team to have ever run under 53 seconds, a lifetime best of 52.80 seconds.

“All of the girls here for the 4x400 meters are good quarter-milers. We have all ran well in the past, so we just have to stick to what works for us,” said Henfield. “We still have our individual programs that we get from our individual coaches, and we follow them, and also we are working with some great coaches here with the national team in Moscow, so I think we’ll be ready.

“At the end of the day, we just want The Bahamas to know that we showed up and we did our best. Hopefully, we accomplish what we set out to do, but if we don’t, we just want The Bahamas to stand behind us.”

Henfield is the only member of the team with any experience at the 4x400m level on the world stage. She was a part of the women’s 4x400m relay team which competed at the 2009 World Championships, in Berlin, Germany. That team of Rolle, Henfield, Rashan Brown and Katrina Seymour was disqualified in the heats.

 

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