BAAA Senior nationals filled with PBs and qualifiers

The country’s top track and field athletes competed fiercely over the weekend at the BAAA Senior National Track and Field Championships, with several of them validating earlier performances to represent The Bahamas on the biggest stage for sports, the Olympic Games.

The Summer Olympics is rapidly approaching, set for August 5-21, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and the BAAA senior nationals wrapped up Saturday night at the new Thomas A Robinson National Stadium.

National record holder in the women’s 400 meters (m) Shaunae Miller cruised to an easy win in that event, winning in 52.17 seconds. Miller, the world’s number one sprinter in the event, controlled the race from start to finish.

“It’s always fun being back home in front of this crowd,”she said. “I didn’t push too hard and I’m happy with the performance. Now the focus shifts to Rio; training is going well and I’ll be ready to go.”

Lanece Clarke was second in 53.28 seconds and Shaniqua Dorsett was third in 53.97 seconds.

Alonzo Russell booked his ticket to Rio de Janeiro with his performance in the men’s 400m, where he mustered up a second place finish in a personal best time of 45.25 seconds. The qualifying mark is 45.40 seconds.

Despite Russell turning in a personal best, it wasn’t enough to come close to national record holder Steven Gardiner’s 44.46 seconds.

Gardiner took the lead on the back stretch of the curve in good position. He powered down the straight away to win easily, retaining his national title. Former national record holder Chris “The Fireman” Brown was third in 45.59 seconds and Stephen “Dirty” Newbold was fourth in a personal best time for him, 45.80 seconds. Gardiner, Brown, Mathieu, Latoy Williams and Ramon Miller had already qualified in the men’s 400, but Williams and Miller were no shows, and Mathieu ended up sixth in 46.29 seconds. Former three-time national champion Demetrius Pinder finished fifth in 46.16 seconds.

“I think i performed well. I executed what my coach told me and I was able to get the victory,” said Gardiner, who was able to come back from a slow start out of the blocks. “I was little slow in the first 200, but i was better in the second 200. It’s always good to run in front of my home crowd and I look forward to representing my country.”

New qualifier Russell said: “It felt good out there and I’m happy to get the real qualifier. It was a pretty good field and I just wanted to keep myself in the race and make it happen.”

Ian Kerr narrowly missed qualifying in the men’s 200m. His winning time of 20.72 was enough to take the national title, but off the qualifying mark of 20.50 seconds.

Blake Bartlett was second in 20.82 seconds, and Elroy McBride took the bronze in 20.85 seconds.

“I felt my performance was good but it could have been a lot better,” said Kerr.

University of Southern California (USC) standout Tynia Gaither won both short sprints at the nationals, completing the sweep with a 200m victory on Saturday in 23 seconds flat.

She won the 100 in 11.13 seconds on Friday.

Other winners on the track included Mathew Grammatico, who took the men’s 5000m in 21:08.60, Ivanique Kemp in the 100m hurdles in 13.58 seconds and Teshon Adderley and Rocky Jean-Louis in the women and men’s 800m in times of 2:08.81 and 1:52.09 respectively.

Over in the field, “Superman” Leevan Sands won the men’s triple jump with a leap of 16.60m. Tamara Myers took the women’s triple jump with a personal best leap of 13.60, Donald Thomas took the men’s high jump with a leap of 2.27m and Gerrard Burrows won the men’s discuss throw with a toss of 48.72m.

On Friday, Shavez Hart won the men’s 100m dash in 10.37 seconds, national record holder Jeffrey Gibson won the men’s 400m hurdles in 50.24 seconds and Oneil Williams took the men’s 1500m run in 3:56.37.