April 16, 2015
A complete BACO (Bahamas Association of Certified Officials) team, along with competition support staff and volunteers, over 200 strong, will be tasked with the daily functioning and running of the actual world relays on the track, come May 2 and 3 at Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.
The second edition of the International Association of Athletics Federations' (IAAF) World Relays is now just two weeks away, and signs appear positive as about 50 nations prepare to name their national teams. The Kenyans, the winners of three of the four distance relays at last year's event, with world records in two of them, have already named a 30-member squad for this year's world relays.
As far as the competition aspect is concerned - the actual running on the track and legitimacy of the meet - BAAA Technical Director Frank "Pancho" Rahming said that his team of officials is well seasoned and ready to handle the task at hand. In addition to BACO, officials will be brought in from Grand Bahama and the Family Islands, and a couple international officials will be here to assist as well.
"The officials were ready last year, and I'm sure they will be ready again this year," said Rahming. "There is always things that you can improve on, but we are ready.You would always want the meet to run a bit smoother and be more time friendly. This year, we are looking at getting the victory laps done in a more timely fashion. We want to get the athletes to the medal presentation area, through the mixed zone and to doping control in as short of period as possible. Everything was done to a tee last year, so we don't see any significant changes happening this year."
Rahming serves as the Senior Director of Competitions for the IAAF/BTC World Relays Bahamas 2015, overseeing the competition portion of the event. In addition to the actual competition on the track, his department oversees the movement of the athletes from the warm-up track to the call room, to their actual events on the track, to the post control room, the medal presentation area, through the mixed zone and to doping control; and they also facilitate bus schedules to and from the stadium and the hotels. Additionally, competition support staff and volunteers will partake heavily in the medal ceremonies, be responsible for the music played inside the stadium and operate the two jumbotrons.
Rahming said that it is a tedious process, but added that he has a diligent team of workers prepared to ensure the success of what is expected to be another "Bahamazing" event.
"One of the challenges we faced last year, was the actual time it took to get the athletes' clothes from the call room to the post control room. We're looking at the option of using golf carts to take the clothing around this time, so as to have it done more quickly," said Rahming. "There will be two tents set up for the call room - one by the 100-meter mark inside the stadium, and the other right outside the gate. It will be set up so that one heat will be in one tent, and the following heat will be in the other. We want the athletes to get to the call room at least 35 minutes before their events. That will give us enough time to get them to their respective events in a timely fashion. At the end of the day, it's an ongoing working process. We have to be prepared for any challenges that might arise."
Inside the call room, athletes will be given their bibs, hip numbers and batons; their spikes will be checked, among other things. There will be a call board set up at the warm-up track, at the old Thomas A. Robinson Track and Field Stadium, where athletes will report to prior to going to the call room.
As for the actual running on the track, Rahming said that camera angles are very important. Hawk-Eye software will be utilized again, as it was at the inaugural world relays at the Thomas A. Robinson stadium last year. The Hawk-Eye software enables competition officials to have access to acute angles of baton exchanges in the various zones on the track, particularly the 4x100 and 4x200 meters (m) sprint relays. For both relays, the entire event is run in lanes, thereby making it vital for exchanges to be done in the correct zones.
"The 4x200 in particular is complicated a bit because it is a race that is rarely ran. Officials need to be in certain areas. For example, the starting point for lane eight is almost out to the 300-meter mark, and the first exchange is almost by the 100-meter mark. Positioning is very important," said Rahming. "IAAF personnel have been making site visits, and they will continue to come here leading up to the event to ensure that the officials are on point. They have their international officials coming in as well, an international starter, medical personnel, and so forth, to keep what's happening here in line with their standards. We have to remember that this is an IAAF event, so it must be up to their standard."
Most of the competition support team will be deployed in and around the two stadiums, but there is a competition secretariat at the Atlantis resort, where athletes and coaches will be able to get technical information about their events and locate bus schedules and other relevant information.
Rahming and his staff will get a taste of what to expect at the world relays at the test event this weekend - the Bahamas High School All-Star Relays. That event will be held Friday and Saturday at the national stadium. The top eight high school teams in the 4x100m, 4x200m and 4x400m relays, in both genders, will qualify for the high school segment of the world relays on Sunday May 3. The junior segment of the world relays that Saturday will feature junior athletes representing their respective islands in the "One Island, One Lane" competition, just like it was done at last year's world relays. The junior segment of the world relays will get underway at 5 p.m. both days, and the global competition will commence at 7 p.m. both days.
"We want to simulate the world relays as much as possible this weekend, even in terms of event presentations and bus schedules to and from the hotels and the stadium," said Rahming. "This weekend is very important to us, not just for the competition side, but for other sections as well, particularly media and security."
Over 500 of the country's top high school track athletes from about 25 schools throughout the country are expected to compete in the high school relays this weekend. That event will get underway at 6:30 p.m. on Friday and 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, and there will be a $5 cover charge for both days of competition.
Rahming, a former athlete, has been heavily involved with the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) either as a coach, administrator or technical official for more than 40 years; he is one of the more senior executive members of the BAAA. He was one of the coaches of The Bahamas' first CARIFTA team in 1973 and traveled with the CARIFTA team for 10-15 years after that. Since then, he spent most of his time around athletics working with the senior athletes and traveling with senior national teams. He is a former deputy director of sports in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture.
"The technical aspect of track and field is always changing. In that vein, it's important to keep up to date with the rules of track and field. I'm always trying to get others involved with the process because I don't know how much longer I will be around. People have to want to be a part of the process. They have to come into the fold, and find out what is supposed to be done as officials."
Rahming said that this year could possibly be his last as technical director of the BAAA. Meanwhile, tickets for the IAAF/BTC World Relays Bahamas 2015 are still available. They can be obtained online at www.bahamasworldrelays.org or at the box office at the national stadium from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.
There are now just 16 days remaining until the biggest sports spectacle to ever hit these shores makes a return to The Bahamas.
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