Sprinter Atkins missing in action

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June 20, 2011

What's happening with Derrick Atkins? He will forever have an important distinction in the sporting history of The Bahamas. Atkins established himself as one of the nation's greatest sprinters in 2006 when he annihilated the former national 100 meters (m) mark of 10.18 seconds. Atkins jetted to a 10.08 finish in becoming the new record holder. The next year, he crashed through the 10 seconds barrier, registering a 9.98 clocking for another 'new' national mark. He would lower that to 9.91 while capturing a silver medal at the International Association of Athletic Federations' (IAAF) World Championships later in 2007. Atkins had arrived in a big way on the international scene. He had beaten the Jamaican world record holder at the time, Asafa Powell, and was second to American Tyson Gay. He was right there among the top three sprinters in the world. This was of course, before an athlete named Usain Bolt captivated the world like no sprinter ever had before. For Bolt, the legacy continues, while Atkins has not in the last four years, come close to his performance of that historic day for Bahamian sports in Osaka, Japan. He ran a couple of races in the low 10 seconds area (10.14 and 10.13) while advancing to the quarter-final round in Beijing at the 2008 Olympics but failed to get into the final which became Bolt's ultimate stage. In just a year, Atkins had dropped out of the top three in the world to an non-qualifier for the Olympic final. His status kept diminishing in 2009 and 2010. Here we are in 2011 with the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations' (BAAA) National Championships scheduled this weekend in Freeport, and by all appearances he will be a no-show. BAAA President Mike Sands, when we chatted recently, admitted to not having a lot of information on Atkins other than the understanding that he has been fighting injuries and is not in peak shape. Atkins, being almost invisible, is cause for another discussion. He is one of the top beneficiaries from the Government Sports Subvention Program. The highest category is $34,000 given to elite athletes for training purposes. There is the condition that the athlete competes and represents the country. Also, participation in the Nationals is a must, unless there is a good reason accepted by the parent federation, in Atkins' case, the BAAA. Sands did not have to speak to this particular issue, because it is common knowledge. The BAAA chief expressed no position on the issue or on the subvention status of any other elite within the track and field family. I know the terrain however and strongly advocate that the taxpayers' money that fund the subvention program is spent prudently, especially in these downward economic times. The Bahamian people should have the full story on Atkins. His situation might be one that is quite reasonable and if so, people will understand. The view here though, is that there ought to be much more information coming in from Atkins about his MIA status. (To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at frobertsturrup@gmail.com)

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News date : 06/20/2011    Category : Sports, Nassau Guardian Stories

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