April 25, 2017
The Bahamas Gold Medal winners of the mixed 4x400m certainly set the bar, high, for this discipline in the future of the IAAF World Relays Bahamas.
On Sunday, April 23, the final night of the two-day IAAF/BTC World Relays Bahamas 2017, the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium rocked all the way from start to finish of the first-time race comprising men and women in a relay event.
And when it was all over due to precision baton exchanges and keeping the edge on hungry competitors, The Bahamas’ team of Steven Gardiner, Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Antonique Strachan and Michael Matthieu won in a time of 3:14.42. The US took second in 3:17.29, with Jamaica third in 3:20.26.
The local crowd was highly anticipating the playing of March On Bahama Land, the National Anthem in the stadium arena. The team did not disappoint.
At a press conference following the historic race, all team members – a mixture of Olympic Gold Medalists and first timers -- said they were very excited to compete in the men and women’s event.
Shaunae Miller-Uibo, the Bahamas’ very own Olympic 400m champion said, “Thank God to be able to compete and be victorious but it was a bit nerve wrecking to compete with men.”
First time competitor in any race, the United States athlete Claudia Francis said it was “an awesome experience” with the Junkanoo music in the background, the excitement from the spectators and also being in The Bahamas for the first time.
The sentiments expressed by the Jamaican male athletes were -- “never wanted to be beaten by a girl because in my country they would laugh at me; but it was a great experience also.”
According to Shaunae, it was really important to come up with a perfect strategy. As for setting the bar on a new race within the Relays, she said, “It was an amazing thing to change it up a bit.”
The visiting athletes also thanked The Bahamas and host athletes for a very warm welcome and hospitality.
The US team comprised Michael Berry, Jaide Stepter, Paul Dedewo and Claudia Francis. For team Jamaica – Martin Manley, Tiffany James, Natoya Goule and Jaheel Hyde.
Other countries that competed in the event were Trinidad and Tobago, Australia, Poland, Kenya and Botswana.
It was the third time The Bahamas hosted the International Association of Athletics Federation World Relays Bahamas.
The IAAF World Relays is the biggest sporting event ever held in The Bahamas and attracts the best athletes in the world; including Olympians like those from the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The following relay races were held for both men and women are: 4x100m, 4×200, 4x400m, and 4x800m. And for the first time a mixed gender 4x400m event was staged. The top eight finishers in the 4x100m and 4x400m for both men and women earned automatic entry for the IAAF World Championships London 2017.
A Junior Programme with athletes from The Bahamas was held both days prior to the IAAF World Relays Bahamas 2017.
The World Relays, April 22-23, attracted more than 700 athletes from some 50 nations. Seven of those nations – Belarus, Democratic Republic of Congo, Czech Republic, Gambia, Ghana, India, and South Africa – made their IAAF World Relays debut.
By Lindsay Thompson
Bahamas Information Services