Bahamas men’s 1600 meters relay tradition of success holding strong

SILVER MEDAL RELAY TEAM—Alonzo Russell, Ojay Ferguson, Stephen Newbold and Teray Smith.

The third silver medal and fourth podium visit for The Bahamas at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games on Friday, demonstrated something quite pleasing.

The Bahamas’ men’s 1600 meters relay tradition of success is very much alive.

The highly noted Steve Gardiner didn’t travel with the team; Michael Matthieu and Ramon Miller are both a step or so slower; Chris Brown seems to have faded into the sunset after a glamorous and lengthy career; Demetrius Pinder has not yet recovered from a 2013 injury, yet the blue, black and gold stood out magnificently.

Not many thought a 1600 meters relay medal was guaranteed for The Bahamas in its most successful track event, historically. The likelihood of names such as Stephen Newbold, Ojay Ferguson, Teray Smith and Alonzo Russell, combining for a medal of any kind was not considered by a lot of folks, I would bet.

Quite frankly, I hadn’t given thought to such a lineup. There have been reasons in the past to criticize coaches for relay lineups. In this case, Head Coach Rupert Gardiner and his associates are to be lauded. The thought process that led to the representatives for the legs in the final was simply awesome.

The venerable Rev. Coach Anthony Williams and I chatted a couple of times on Saturday morning and he said the country looks set to continue its quality showing in the men’s 1600 meters relay.

“Those young boys ran extremely well. When Stevie (Gardiner) gets with them, they will be able to run against any country with a good chance. I like the new look,” said Coach Williams.

He pointed out that it is good that, when those who have done great things for us, move off the scene, or slip into the background, there are others to fill the void. There has been a big question hanging over track and field regarding, this exact situation. Not too long ago, it really looked like The Bahamas would be average at best in its specialty relay, even with Gardiner.

Now, according to one who knows track and field very well, as they say, ‘things are looking up.’
Incidentally, Coach Williams also poured water on the hot rumor that his prize pupil, Gardiner, might be opting to compete for another country. Presently, Gardiner is working on his “green card status” in the United States, but Coach Williams says the young boy he discovered and trained into one of the finest quarter milers in the world today “is not going anywhere.”

“I just talked to Stevie very recently. In fact, I sent him the material on social media and his response was ‘boy I don’t know where people get this kind of stuff from.’ Look, as far as I am concerned, no such decision has been made. Getting his green card will not stop him from continuing to compete for The Bahamas.You know though, I told him that perhaps such rumors are good sometimes because they cause others to take note and not take their high quality talent for granted,” said the coach.

Coach Williams makes an excellent point.

The bigger picture for now however, is the fact that The Bahamas remains a strong world force in the men’s 1600 meters relay.

Congratulations, Gold Coast 1600 meters relay silver medalists!
Great accomplishment, Coach Gardiner and Team Bahamas!

• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at or on WhatsApp at 727-6363.

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