‘Speedy’ Stevie Gardiner pulls out of the world championships
The Bahamas’ team at the World Athletics (WA) Outdoor Championships received a major blow with an announcement from World and Olympic Champion Steven Gardiner on Independence Day holiday.
Gardiner pulled out of the 10-day world championships, that is set to get underway at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, USA, this Friday, citing a UTE tendon inflammation. He said on Instagram: “… instead of putting on my spikes, I have been advised to put on a walking boot due to a UTE tendon inflammation. Unfortunately, there will be no Eugene ‘22 for me! Devastated by the news, but I am thankful for all the blessings in my career so far. I am also thankful for my team around me for all the love and support during this process. I’ll now move ahead to obtain the necessary treatment so that I can be 100 percent. To the people of The Bahamas, my sponsors, and my fans around the world, I’m sorry I won’t be able to compete. I wish my rivals good health and the very best. Thanks for all the support.”
Gardiner, 26, was one of the favorites for the gold medal in the men’s 400 meters (m), going into the meet as one of just seven men in the field to ever run under 44 seconds – the others being world record holder Wayde Van Niekerk of South Africa (43.03), Isaac Makwala of Botswana (43.72), Americans Michael Norman (43.45), Champion Allison (43.70), and Randolph Ross (43.85) and former World and Olympic Champion Kirani James of Grenada (43.74). Gardiner has a lifetime best of 43.48 seconds which he ran to win the world title at the Khalifa International Stadium, in Doha, Qatar, in 2019. That’s also the fastest time in the world in six years. He is the sixth-fastest man in history, and the second-fastest non-American behind Van Niekerk.
As for this year, Norman is the world leader at 43.56 seconds, done at the USA Track and Field (USATF) Outdoor Championships in June. Gardiner has a season’s best time of 44.21 seconds, done at the Meeting de Paris Diamond League Meet in Paris, France, in June.
Strong gold medal hopes for the country now rests on the shoulder of
Shaunae Miller-Uibo, the only other Olympic Champion on the 17-member squad which begins competition this Friday morning with Donald Thomas in the qualifying rounds of the men’s high jump and the heats of the mixed 4x400m relay. LaQuan Nairn will compete in the qualifying rounds of the men’s long jump in the afternoon session on Friday, Samson Colebrooke and Terrence Jones will run in the men’s 100m heats and the mixed 4x400m relay final will close out day one of competition.
Other members of the team are Anthonique Strachan (women’s 100/200m), TyNia Gaither (women’s 100/200m), Devynne Charlton (women’s 100m hurdles), Ken Mullings (men’s decathlon), and Megan Moss, Doneisha Anderson, Javonya Valcourt, Jenae Ambrose, Alonzo Russell, Bradley Dormeus and Wanya McCoy who have been added for relay purposes.
The absence of Gardiner is a huge loss, undoubtedly hurting the country’s medal chances. The Bahamas has won at least one medal at every world athletics championships since 2013, and has won 25 medals in the history of the championships – eight gold, nine silver and eight bronze.
As for Gardiner, he is the only Bahamian man to ever run under 44 seconds in the men’s 400m in athletics, the reigning World and Olympic Champion, and the owner of the top 13 times in Bahamian track and field history in the one-lap event.
Gardiner will now likely bring his season to an end. He was unbeaten this year and hasn’t lost a men’s 400m race outdoors, that he has finished, in five years – a string of 23 consecutive races dating back to the 2017 World Championships when he won the silver medal behind Van Niekerk.
It remains to be seen how The Bahamas will perform without Gardiner.