“Good morning, my brother. take a look.” That’s the message that came through on Sunday morning past, around 8:00 a.m., while I was still on my short business leave and browsing online in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic. It made for quite a pleasant interlude for me to examine the video sent by my friend Rev. (Coach) Anthony Williams of Moore’s Island in the Abacos.
Rev. Williams, obviously, thought to give me an early item to brighten the day. The reverend gentleman succeeded beyond any expectation he might have had. There are many sporting memories of greater historic significance in my head, but for me, few were more scintillating than to view the video sent by Rev. Williams.
It was of, so far, the brightest star from his mini Sports Academy in Moore’s Island. I refer to the lanky 21-year-old Steven Gardiner, who drew universal attention with one of the greatest, pure athletic performances of a Bahamian, ever.
He left spectators at the to-be-named Kirani James National Stadium astounded with a 400 meters 44.26 national record that stamped him as the early world leader for the event this year. After viewing the video several times, and basking in the glow of enthusiasm and pride with Bahamian associates Nadia and Tania, I called Leslie Miller, the first great Bahamian quarter-miler.
Miller could not believe what I was telling him.
“What you said?”
“Gardiner, the one from Abaco?”
“Goodness, this early in the season. I just hope he doesn’t peak to quickly.”
Miller’s appreciation comes out a background that saw him hook up with the best of the United States, inclusive of Martin McGrady of Central State University, who was a demon early in the season and known as the ‘Lion in Winter’; and become the first Bahamian to crack the 47 seconds barrier in the 400 meters, 49 years ago.
His response to the news aptly demonstrate, where Steven Gardiner is at the moment. He is on the cusp of world prominence. Gardiner is indeed at that point of transition from being just another of the huge reservoir of global track talents, to one of particular note. I have watched the video again and again, after Sunday.
It was phenomenal, the way Gardiner negotiated the track at the inaugural Grenada Invitational in the capital city of St. George’s. By the 300 meters mark, he had gained a gigantic stagger on the field. When he crossed the line in the B 400 meters race, the rest of the runners were basically just in the middle of the homestretch.
As always, while focusing on the emergence of someone who could craft wonderful chapters in Bahamian history, I hasten to remind readers about those who made that difference in their lives, early on. This case in point is that Rev. Williams is the one who got Gardiner started on the present journey.
As planned in Grenada, last Saturday, James was slotted in the A 400 meters, the feature event. On that night, however, the former World/Olympic champion was overshadowed, in his house, by the humble Gardiner. James ran 45.44 to win his race, but history would always reflect that on a night dedicated primarily to him, he did not record the fastest time for his specialty event.
Gardiner’s effort was more than a second better.
South African world record holder Wayde van Nierkerk (43.03 seconds), James and LaShawn Merritt are definitely the king and princes of the 400 meters respectively, but not too far behind is a Bahamian.
Continued best wishes Steven Gardiner!
To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org or on WhatsApp 727-6363.
Published Wednesday, April 12, 2017