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Women’s 4x400m relay team finish 13th overall

SHELDON LONGLEY
Guardian Sports Editor
slongley@nasguard.com

Published: Aug 17, 2013

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MOSCOW, Russia – A Bahamian women’s 4x400 meters (m) relay squad competed for just the second time at the senior world championships yesterday, and despite not advancing to the final, the team was still able to record a respectable time here in Moscow, Russia. It was just one, one hundredth of a second off the qualifying time they ran at the Penn Relays this year, justifying their reason for being here, at the 14th International Association of Athletic Federations’ (IAAF) World Championships.

The team of Amara Jones, Lanece Clarke, Shakeitha Henfield and Cottrell Martin, in that order, ran a respectable time of 3:32.91, to finish fourth in their semi-final heat, and 13th overall.

Out of the two appearances at the world championships level, it was the highest finish for the women’s 4x400m relay team.

While disappointed that they didn’t qualify for the final, lead-off leg Jones said that she was happy with the effort they gave, and they are looking forward to the future.

She appeared to hand the baton off to second leg runner Clarke with The Bahamas in third place.

“I just went out there and did my best,” said Jones yesterday. “This is just a stepping stone for 2016. I think that we all appreciate the opportunity. We worked hard for it, and we feel that there is so much more to come. This is just phase one, so we just need for everyone to keep supporting us.”

Three of the four ladies in the line-up ran under 54 seconds at the BTC National Open Track and Field Championships in June. Jones was second behind Clarke in those nationals, posting a time of 53.52 seconds. Clarke ran 53.03 seconds.

“We’re just going to stick with it and keep working hard – preparing for next year and the year after that, moving forward to 2016,” said Jones.

National Champion Clarke, who is the only one in the quartet to ever run under 53 seconds, got off slow off the bend yesterday and had to really fight coming home to get The Bahamas back in contention. After the first curve she was in fifth place, but at the end of her leg, she brought The Bahamas back within striking distance of third.

“I felt pretty good,” said Clarke. “First of all, I want to thank my teammates, the Bahamian people for supporting us, and for the coaches in believing in us. I just went out there and did what my coach wanted me to do. We didn’t qualify but I’m satisfied that we did our best.

“This is my first big championships and it gave me an idea of what it feels like to be out there on the world stage. The only way to be the best is if you run with the best so I was glad that I got the opportunity.”

Henfield, who was third at the BTC nationals in 53.73 seconds, ran the third leg for The Bahamas. She said she just went out there and gave it her best.

“It would have been good for us to make the final, but we’re happy with the effort that we gave,” she said. “We knew that if we had Shaunae (Miller) in there, we would have been in the final, but we’ll be back. We’re looking forward to the future.

“I try not to worry too much about the competition. The good thing about running with faster people is that they will push you to run harder. I’m always excited to be running against someone who might be faster than me. I take it as a challenge.”

Miller, easily The Bahamas’ fastest female quarter-miler, decided to concentrate on the 200m and 4x100m relay this year.

The anchor leg for Team Bahamas yesterday, Cottrell Martin, was fifth at the BTC nationals, but still got the nod to run here in Moscow over Miriam Byfield who was fourth at the nationals.

“I just went out there and did what I needed to do for my team which was to come in strong and make sure that I wasn’t caught coming into the line,” said Martin yesterday. “I was able to do that, so I’m very proud of what I did.

“We’re excited and more hungry now that anything else. We’re going to get good experience from this, and we’ll have the confidence that we could do anything. We are definitely on the map right now.

“For me, it’s been a great experience. I thought that I would have been a bit nervous but we came here ready to take on the world. We were positive and we stayed strong, and we felt like we belonged here. “

The final qualifying time for the final yesterday was 3:29.63, about three seconds faster than The Bahamas. All of the girls are confident that once they continue to work on their individual races and improve, they will be representing the country internationally for many years.

Host country Russia was the top qualifier for the final, running a time of 3:23.51. The United States had the second best qualifying time, of 3:25.18, and Great Britain had the third fastest qualifying time, of 3:25.39

The final will be held this evening in Moscow.

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