THE Bahamas, a country of some 350,000 people, will be looking to send a strong message to the rest of the world at the IAAF World Indoor Championships this weekend.
The message being, “we’re coming for you at the London 2012 Olympic Games.” Despite fielding a small team at these championships since its inauguration in 1987, The Bahamas, since 1995 in Barcelona Spain, has won at least one medal in the succeeding championships.
In Istanbul, Turkey, a nine-member squad will be competing at the three day meet, bringing youth and experience together in hopes to repeat and/or improve upon the trend set by the previous teams.
First up to compete for the Bahamas on day one of competition is Demetrius Pinder and defending world indoor champion at 400m, Chris Brown.
Pinder, the country’s indoor national record holder in this event, will run in lane six of heat one at 5.20am local time. In his first indoor 400m of the season, he ran the third fastest time in the world of 45.40s, .07s off his personal best.
The only other athletes faster than him over the distance are Greneda’s Kirani James 45.19s, and
USA’s Gil Roberts of 45.39s. Pinder, is without a doubt a favorite to medal as he is no stranger to high level indoor competition. At last years NCAA Division I indoor championships, he won the crown in 45.33s over heavy favourite James.
Pinder is joined by Brown,who will run in the sixth heat out of lane five at 5.45am. ‘Fireman’ Brown has run 46.17s, the 11th best time in the world so far. Though he has not run under 46s, Brown cannot be counted out and is expected to be a heavy favorite due to his experience and previous success at the last three championships.
The outdoor national record holder won two consecutive bronze in 2006 and 2008 before striking gold in 2010 at the Doha WIC. These accomplishments alone make the Eleuthera native the man to beat, coming into the field as the most decorated of the quartermilers.
Joining Brown and Pinder are Michael Matthieu, Le’Sean Pickstock and Jamieson Strachan. Matthieu is the next fastest Bahamian quartermiler having ran 46.62. His improving speed, along with good form from Pickstock and Strachan, will definitely be a boost for the 4x400m relay squad hoping to advance to the finals to contest a medal.
They will be competing on Saturday at 4.20am local time. However, before the fantastic five attempt to get the baton around the track, Golden Girl Chandra Sturrup will line up at the 60m start line for what is likely to be her last indoor championships.
Despite a years absence from athletics due to injury, the elite veteran qualified for the 60m in her first race back, a seasons best of 7.29s. Since then, she has consistently run under the qualifying time of 7.35s. Though her time is not the among the fastest in the world this year, Sturrup has always been a fighter that shows up to run, having competed in four indoor championships since 1997.
At the 1997 Paris WIC, she won a silver in 7.15s behind USA’s Gail Devers who was 0.10s faster. Then four years later in 2001, Sturrup won gold in 7.05s, her personal best to date. Though she was unsuccessful in defending her timely at the 2003 championships, finishing fourth in the semi-finals, she remains a force to be reckoned with in the short sprints, evident by her fifth place finish at the 2010 WIC.
Sturrup, as always, will be aiming for the top prize, and will no doubt represent The Bahamas, as always, to the best of her abilities.
Speaking of best, the country’s best high jumpers will take to the field during the relay heats. Trevor Barry and Donald Thomas will be looking to add another medal to their well decorated list of medals.
Barry, last year’s CAC TF championship gold medalist and World Championship bronze medalist, is a two-time CAC Games runner up. Add those to his 2010 Commonwealth Games silver medal and Barry certainly looks to be a contender for the prize, having leaped 2.30m this season.
While Thomas has not jumped this high so far for 2012, he has risen to the occasion more than once when the stakes seemed to be against him.
He is the 2007 Osaka World Champion, the 2010 CAC Games gold medalist and silver medalist of the IAAF Continental Cup. To complete the list of credentials, Thomas is the reigning Commonwealth and Pan American Games champion at the high jump.
High Jump actions begins at 4.25 local time on Saturday. The next scheduled event on the list that will have a Bahamian participant is the women’s long jump where jumping sensation Bianca Stuart will be looking to make a big splash in the sand pit.
Stuart is no stranger to long jumping indoors, having competed in the event throughout her collegiate career. She goes into the pit as the ninth best jumper in the world. Her seasons and personal best of 6.79m came at the USATF Class in Fayetteville, Arkansas where although she was the runner up, beat out reigning World Outdoor Champion Brittany Reese of the USA.
The leap was .04m away from the current indoor national record held of 6.83m held by Daphne Saunders. Will she surpass the mark this weekend? Stay tuned with Bahamas Athletics as we track the progress of our nine member squad at these championships.