Thirty-five teams, 546 athletes will not only have The Bahamas’ attention, but the eyes of the world as the Third Annual International Association of Athletic Federation (IAAF) World Relays kick-off tomorrow evening.
Live from the Thomas A. Robinson Stadium in New Providence those 35 countries, including The Bahamas, will compete vigorously to capture the golden baton at the conclusion of the April 22 - 23 event.
This past Wednesday an introductory press conference was held at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel, where IAAF President Lord Sebastian Coe addressed members of the media.
Coe voiced that it did not take him long to realize that The Bahamas understood track and field, during one of his visits to the country some time ago. Since the World Relays was first hosted in The Bahamas, it has become one of the most popular events around the world, according to Coe.
“I’m delighted to be here, because this is now becoming a familiar and favorite part of the International Family of Events,” the IAAF President said. “This is the third occasion The Bahamas has so graciously hosted us. And, I guess, on the first occasion I came as an IAAF Council Member, as a vice president and somebody who looked and recognized the relationships, The Bahamas Athletics Association (BAAA), the Local Organizing Committee. But you’ve ceased just to be those strategic bodies and you’ve now become great friends of both the IAAF and certainly in my case, me and my colleagues.”
Coe reminded everyone that there would be a lot at stake for the athletes. The IAAF World Championships take place later this year and teams would want to run the best times possible, specifically in the 4x100 and 4x400 meters.
The former middle distance runner addressed his time at the 2015 World Relays and stated he was “astounded” by the quality, passion and knowledge that was “available” in the stadium by way of the audience and media.
“Sitting as I do, I prefer to wander, I prefer to listen to conversations and I like catching up with people. And actually just the quality and the knowledge of what the fans were watching was staggering. And it’s just not the audiences, it’s just not the spectators it’s also the quality and the knowledge that was displayed by the media that were covering these events.”
Coe also paid a short tribute to the host country and the history behind their success in the relays.
“Most young people here seem to be born with a relay baton in their hand and it stays there for the majority of their athletics career,” he said. “I can’t wish for more gracious hosts or a more spectacular setting. We expect this year to have greater coverage than we’ve ever had before. Head to heads are what bring people into our stadiums, and when you have some of the greatest relay teams on the planet all competing over the space of literally a couple of days that really does grab the imagination.”
The teams began to arrive as early as April 14. Great Britain arrived this past Friday and Sunday with a contingent of 32 people. The Czech Republic got into the country with their seven-team members on Tuesday, as well as France with their 35-team members. Germany, India, Italy and the United States also made their arrival into The Bahamas this Tuesday. Great Britain also had the remainder of their team join them on Tuesday.
This past Wednesday Belarus, Cuba, Japan, and Qatar flew into Nassau. And finally, yesterday Australia, Barbados, Belgium, Canada, Columbia, Cuba, Ecuador, Kenya, Mexico and Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, and People’s Republic of China made their arrival. Germany also had the remainder of their team fly in on Wednesday.
The countries are expected to make their departure out of Nassau this coming Monday.
Published Friday, April 21, 2017