Steven Gardiner, on Friday past, joined the credible list of Bahamian world champions in track and field. He is the second male quarter miller to do so, following Avard Gardiner in 2001. Tonique Williams became a 400 meters world champion 2005, the only Bahamian female in the category.
The list of Bahamian International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) outdoor champions includes also, high jumper Troy Kemp in 1995; the Original Golden Girls in the 4 X 100 relay in 1999; Debbie Ferguson in the 200 meters in 2001; and Donald Thomas in the high jump in 2007.
Friday was Gardiner’s time. He produced a perfect performance. His pace was terrific throughout the race and he left in his wake some of the finest 400 meters specialists the world has ever seen, inclusive of Grenada’s former Olympic and World Champion Kirani James. Gardiner’s winning time of 43.48 is the sixth fastest all time, with only world record holder Wayde van Niekerk (43.03); Michael Johnson (43.18); Butch Reynolds (43.29); Jeremy Wariner (43.29); and Michael Norman (43.45) ahead of him.
Colombia’s Anthony Zambrano finished second in 44.15 and American Fred Kerley grabbed the bronze with a 44.17 clocking. James was fifth in 44.54 behind Jamaica’s Demish Gaye (44.46). Emmanuel Kipkurui of Kenya followed James in 44.94, Machel Cedenio of Trinidad/Tobago was seventh in 45.30, and Jamaica’s Akeem Bloomfield came in eighth with the time of 45.36.
From lane three, Gardiner was on point in executing his phases. He got out really good and maintained a quality pace over the first 150 meters. Gardiner looked extremely comfortable as he made his move, gradually picking up the stagger of the runners in higher lanes. He came out of the last curve in full command and maintained his graceful, but potent stride, clearly the class of the field.
He is a world champion, one of the best ever.
After the race, he reflected a bit on the medals won by The Bahamas.
“It’s so big to win two medals for The Bahamas after the hurricane (Dorian). We did it for our country,” he said.
Of course, the other medal, a silver, was won by Shaunae Miller-Uibo. Ironically, she achieved the sixth fastest time ever for a woman (48.37) in the 400 meters, but her best was only good enough for a silver. As it turned out, Bahraini Salwa Eid-Naser had a bit more in the tank at the right time. Her 48.14 relegated our Bahamian great, Miller0-Uibo to second.
However, Gardiner was not to be denied. He ensured golden glory for his country. He has come quite a long way from the time when the unassuming but iconic mentor, Rev. Anthony Williams of Moore’s Island took him under his wings and nurtured a boy who was to become a world superstar.
Gardiner’s gold, and the way he crafted it, boosted immensely, the spirits of Bahamians, especially those from his island, Abaco, and the neighboring Grand Bahama, hit hardest by Hurricane Dorian.
We must celebrate him in the fashion he deserves. Gardiner, as night set in, carried a nation on his slim shoulders, around the lap of 400 meters at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar.
A huge parade should be arranged and organized, led by the Government of The Bahamas, and inclusive of Christians leaders and others, to pay tribute to one who has exemplified hope, courage, dedication and determination at a time, post-Hurricane Dorian, when the nation needs to be steered by those characteristics, so very badly.
He brought The Bahamas back to a leadership role in track and field.
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