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Rolle has her sights set on Rio in 2016

Aiming to become the first Bahamian to qualify for a senior global meet in a distance event
  • Female distance runner Hughnique Rolle is aiming to become the first Bahamian to qualify for the Olympics or the world outdoor championships in the distance events.

SHELDON LONGLEY
Guardian Sports Editor
slongley@nasguard.com

Published: Sep 18, 2013

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The Bahamas has won 10 Olympic medals in track and field since Frank Rutherford broke through in 1992, and almost twice as much at the world outdoor championships.

However, none of those medals have come in distance events (800 meters or longer). In fact, no Bahamian has even ever qualified at the senior global level in those events.

Hughnique Rolle is trying to change that. The slender triple national record holder for The Bahamas has her sights set on the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She is looking to make a significant breakthrough for the country in the distance events by becoming the first Bahamian to qualify at that level in at least one of those longer races.

“My coaches and I feel as if I am on the right track and I have what it takes,” said Rolle yesterday. “I don't want to qualify in a race like the 800 either. My biggest desire is to qualify in an event like the 1,500 meters (m). That would surely wow the world, and show everyone that The Bahamas can compete in the distance events.

“As for next season, my goal is similar to what every true athlete aims for - to be more successful than the year before. I just want to continue shining in my areas on the track. I want to PR (run personal best times) in all my events with that being as low as my 400 because by doing that I will be able to run a faster 800 and a faster 1,500. I want to become stronger and faster,” she added.

Personal best times could result in new national records for Rolle. She is the only Bahamian to hold three senior individual national records, outdoors, and she set them all last year - a time of 4:39.09 in the women’s 1,500m, 10:26.39 in the 3,000m, and 18:05.05 in the 5,000m. The ‘B’ qualifying times for the Moscow World Championships in the 1,500m and 5,000m events were 4:09.00 and 15:24.00 respectively. The women’s 3,000m wasn’t contested.

“I’m certain that there is a future for distance running in The Bahamas,” said Rolle. “I think that the BAAA can assist by doing a number of things. First of all, they can ensure that at all meets, they include races like the 3,000m and the 5,000m, even for girls. I feel like since every event has a national record there should be some sort of meet or event that takes place where people who run those events can take part. If we have national records in these events it means that people took part in them before, so there should be some people who are willing now.

“Also, they should try to host more meets to help distance runners drop their times. These events do not only have to be track meets, but they can be multiple road races and multiple cross country events. This can aid in raising money, but also help with discovering some athletes who might actually have what it takes to run these events.

“Also, I personally think that they should try to find ways to push distance running in The Bahamas. I feel as if we as a country need to push to be in more events like the other Caribbean countries are doing. If we start developing young athletes from now, we can possibly become strong competitors against countries like Jamaica in terms of winning CARIFTA.

“Lastly, they should find ways to send runners off to meets to compete against other distance runners and drop their times. This can also motivate them and allow them to see straight on the type of work that needs to be put in,” added Rolle.

For quite some time now, athletes and coaches have been calling on the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) to implement more distance programs to assist young athletes like Rolle in their goals of qualifying for major meets.

Rolle graduated from Seton Hall University with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Business Administration, and is currently a Masters of Arts in Economics at Virginia State University. She is expected to compete in the indoor and outdoor seasons this coming school year.

“I intend to keep on running as far and as long as I can. I do it for the kids who are younger than I am,” said Rolle. “I remember growing up running distance, many times people tried to persuade me to switch to sprinting because everyone was doing it, but look where I am now. I have three national records and I’m making some type of difference in the country. I got a full scholarship to attend university and I am now on another scholarship to finish my masters. God paved a special journey in my life and I know I am on the right track. I am doing something special, not only for myself, but for others who dare to be different. Someone has to fill the gap,” she added.

So far, that someone has certainly been Rolle, particularly in female distance running for the country. She still has a long way to go to qualify for a senior global meet in the distance events, but the former CARIFTA standout is certain that it can be done. She is looking forward to representing the Virginia State Trojans this coming school year.

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