Atkins throws blame back on the BAAA
Guardian Sports Editor
Published: May 15, 2014
Bahamian national record holder in the men’s 100 meters (m) Derrick Atkins is firing back at the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA), blaming its members for a lack of communication between himself and that organization.
This week, BAAA President Mike Sands said that he didn’t know if Atkins was “dead or alive” in relation to his participation in the inaugural International Association of Athletics Federation’s (IAAF) World Relay Championships. Atkins himself, said that might be because the BAAA failed to reach out to its athletes on a timely basis. He said that he was contacted via e-mail just last week, and didn’t respond immediately due to an injury he suffered just a couple days before being contacted. Atkins strained his groin muscle last Monday, and according to him, he received the e-mail from the BAAA on Wednesday. Up to Monday past, he still hadn’t responded, and as a result, has been left off the team for the IAAF World Relays Bahamas 2014, which is set for May 24-25, at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.
“After I hurt myself last week, I really didn’t know what kind of shape I would be in, so I wanted to keep myself open. That’s the reason why my response wasn’t immediate, but they are saying that they haven’t heard from me, and all of this crazy stuff, but it’s not like they been reaching out to me from the beginning of the year. They haven’t,” said Atkins yesterday. “They just sent an e-mail to everyone last week, and expect everyone to drop what they’re doing and respond to them. They knew about the world relays for two years, and they didn’t reach out to any athlete, that I know of, and try to get us together to run.
“Now, two weeks out from the major championships, they want to scrap us together, and when people do not respond, they’re in the papers saying, ‘it’s a slap in the face’, and am ‘I dead or alive’. That’s crazy. They know just how to reach us when they want to. They are saying that we are bad at communicating, but they are bad at communicating to us because they wait until the last minute to do everything. It’s not the way you do business.”
Coincidentally, other athletes have also bashed the BAAA for lack of communication this season.
As for Atkins, he said that he initially felt the injury two Fridays ago, but decided to test it that Monday to see how severe it was. That plan backfired as it got worse, and forced him out of action. He was scheduled to compete in the Seiko Golden Grand Prix in Tokyo, Japan, this past Sunday, but couldn’t make the trip because of the injury.
“This season on the whole has been up and down for me. It’s been really hectic,” he said. “There has just been one injury after the next. I’ve yet to string together a consistent base of training. I’m just hoping that with this injury I have now, it doesn’t take me out as long as the last one I had. At the end of the day, I should be back to strength fully in time for the Commonwealth Games. That’s the plan,” he added.
As far as the world relays is concerned, Atkins is definitely out as he has been left off the team. He wouldn’t have been able to run anyway because of his injury. Nevertheless, he said that he was quite disappointed in how everything transpired. He said that he was looking forward to representing his country as a member of the team.
“I’ve been available to run. My schedule was cleared to run at the world relays. That was one of the major meets for me this year, along with the Commonwealth Games,” said Atkins. “I really wanted to run. I didn’t have any previous obligations.... it’s just that I happened to get hurt two weeks out. I’m more than disappointed that I won’t be able to compete. There’s nothing like representing your country on the world stage, and to be able to do it at home would have been really special.”
Atkins said that he spoke with Sands on Tuesday morning, the same morning that the article was published in which Sands questioned the whereabouts of Atkins. At the end of the day, he said that he always embraces the opportunity to represent The Bahamas on the world stage. In relation to relay running, Bahamian sprinters have been able to break the men’s 4x100m national record on three occasions over the past two years without Atkins. The new record of 38.70 seconds was set by Adrian Griffith, Warren Fraser, Jamial Rolle and Shavez Hart at the Moscow World Championships last year.
“I’m the seasoned vet, and not being a part of that was kind of difficult. Not just in the relays, but actually being there and building that camaraderie that you have on the national teams, not having that was hard,” said Atkins. “I’m a proud Bahamian and anything I could do to help my country, I definitely will do.
“I feel like it’s our time. It’s great that the guys are running so well. The Bahamas men on the sprint side are starting to turn some heads, and that’s wonderful. I was very happy that those guys were able to do what they did at the world champs, even though I was unable to be a part of that. I support them no matter what. At the end of the day, we are all one. We all represent The Bahamas, and we will be a force to reckon with in the sprints for years to come.”
Griffith leads all Bahamian sprinters with a 10.14 clocking this year, becoming the second fastest Bahamian ever behind Atkins. Hart has ran 10.18 seconds, and Trevorvano Mackey has ran a personal best time of 10.21 seconds. Griffith is expected to be here for the world relays, but Hart and Mackey might have school commitments.
Atkins, who lives and trains out of Atlanta, Georgia, will be here regardless.
“I just want everyone out there to know that there is a lot more that goes into the finished product than what you would see on TV,” said Atkins.
“Every time that you see us on TV, it’s not going to be world-class performances, because it’s a task to get to that point. Bear with us, and continue to support us, financially and otherwise. Help us out, because it’s certainly not easy.”
Atkins is still the only Bahamian to ever run under 10 seconds in the men’s 100m. He hasn’t recorded a respectable time in the century this year, but had a season’s best of 10.06 seconds a year ago, and many believe that he still has the ability to be in that range. The national record holder is hoping to be at full strength in time for the 20th Commonwealth Games, set for July 23 to August 3, in Glasgow, Scotland.