The Bahamas was represented by just one quarter-miler at the recent Birmingham IAAF World Indoor Championships. It was Alonzo Russell and he was disqualified in the first round. He didn’t get a further opportunity to add to the glowing legacy of The Bahamas, built by the depth of men’s 400 meters sprinters through the years. Also, there was not a 1600 men’s relay squad in Birmingham, carrying Bahamian colors. There does not seem to be a whole lot of men’s 400 meters talent on the horizon for the country, either.
We are thus forced to ponder a particular question that relates directly to the incredible men’s 400 meters depth we once boasted of.
“Is The Bahamas at the end of that long run as one of the top countries the world over in men’s 1600 meters relay running?
Eighteen years ago at the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, The Bahamas sent a quiet message to the world about what was to come for the country through its prime 400 meters men sprinters. The Bahamas placed fourth initially in the 1600 meters relay final and eventually moved up to bronze when the winning United States team was disqualified. That Bahamas’ team included Avard Moncur, Chris Brown, Carl Oliver, Troy McIntosh and Tim Munnings.
On that huge world sports stage however, leading up to the 1600 meters relay final, Avard Moncur was outstanding. He had advanced almost to the final of the open 400 meters. Actually his 45.18 clocking that missed getting into the top four of an incredibly fast first semifinal heat (inclusive of Americans Michael Johnson and Alvin Harrison), was better that the winning time in the second semi-final heat.
A young Chris Brown had advanced beyond the first round as well.
The very next year, in Edmonton, Canada in the Alberta Province at the 2001 IAAF World Outdoor Championships, Moncur and his 400 meters colleagues cemented the rise of The Bahamas as definitely, one of the world’s power countries.
Moncur ran a blazing 44.64 in the final of the 400 meters open race and succeeded the great American Johnson as the world champion for the event. In the 1600 meters relay final, Moncur solidified his status as the best quarter miler in the world at that time, by leading The Bahamas to the gold medal. With him yet again, were Brown, McIntosh, Oliver, and Munnings. At that moment in time, they reigned supreme over the entire world.
Yes indeed, The Bahamas was at the top of the world in the men’s 1600 meters relay.
Through the years, with other names (Andre Williams, Nathaniel McKinney, Andretti Bain, Demetrius Pinder, LaToy Williams and Ramon Miller) coming on stream as Munnings, McIntosh, Oliver and finally Moncur moved off the scene, the Bahamian 400 meters male sprinters would excel in the open sprints and especially in the 1600 meters relay.
With Chris Brown (The Eternal One) providing stability for the most part, going into the 2018 Birmingham IAAF Indoor event The Bahamas had won four Olympic medals (2012 gold, 2008 silver, and a 2016 bronze to go along with the bronze of 2000); four Outdoor IAAF World Championships relay medals (2005 silver, 2007 silver and 2003 bronze added to the 2001 gold); a 2016 Indoor IAAF relay silver plus a slew of individual IAAF Indoor individual medals won by Brown (gold, silver, three bronze, and Pinder a silver).
The Bahamas also won two World Relays IAAF men’s 1600 meters silver medals (2014, 2015), and the World Relays Mixed 1600 meters gold medal in 2017. Let’s not forget, that Steve Gardiner won the silver medal in the 400 meters at the 2027 IAAF Outdoor World Championships in London.
Clearly over the period, 2000-to-now, The Bahamas has been second only to The United States in consistency, regarding men’s 1600 meters relay international competition and has been qualitative, on an individual basis as well.
Today, in my view, we have just Gardiner, Michael Mathieu and Russell who can be counted on to be competitive, consistently, during international competitions. Pinder still seems to be trying to get back to where he was before the devastating injury he suffered, running during the Chris Brown Bahamas Invitational back in 2013. Miller has been beset with injuries.
So, I ask again.
Is The Bahamas at the end of that long distinguished run as one of the world’s power countries in the men’s 1600 meters relay event?
One looks apprehensively into the future for the true answer.
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at email@example.com or on WhatsApp at 727-6363).