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Govt. to unveil 2017 IAAF Third World Relays program this week

Govt. to unveil 2017 IAAF Third World Relays program this week

Fred Sturrup

Sports Scope 

 January 16, 2017 

 Freeport News

The bickering behind the scene is no longer of any consequence. I have been informed that the Government of The Bahamas, in conjunction with representatives from the International Association of Athletic Associations (IAAF) and the local track and field parent body, the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA), plans to officially launch the Third World Relays event on Wednesday, January 18.

It was a thorny journey to this point and as pointed out in this space on Saturday, Prime Minister Christie had to finally get personally into the mix to resolve the fighting for authority over the major IAAF event. My understanding is that it was established for those who had different views, that the World Relays is an event owned by the IAAF.

A country hosting an event, even on the property via a legislative Act, controlled by the National Sports Authority, does not relate to ownership rights. It seems that the National Sports Authority was initially at odds with other stakeholders on this aspect.

Now though, host country The Bahamas, is at the mark and ready to go.

A huge challenge for the country, through the BAAA, is to focus now on placing the best possible competitive group of athletes forward in order to seek a more prominent role on the medal table. The World Relays, the latest international brand item of the IAAF, has been from the inception, the domain of the United States.

USA athletes have dominated the event. Twelve gold medals have gone to the USA from the World Relays events of 2014 and 2015, compared to four for Jamaica, the second place country. Kenya stands in third place with three gold medals, while Nigeria has collected one gold medal. Actually, thus far, the gold medals from the World Relays have been shared by just four countries.

The international rankings in track and field are based on gold medal achievements. However, the USA also has captured the most medals, 16. Jamaica has won 10; Kenya six; Poland four; Great Britain Four; Australia four. The Bahamas sits in sixth place in the ranking with two silver medals.

The marquee event that climaxed the first two relays was the men’s 1600 meters. That event has been the one highlight for The Bahamas. Our two silver medals have come from the 1600 meters relay. Twice, the United States out-dueled The Bahamas, as screaming national fans tried to boost our runners around the track at the Thomas Augustus Robinson National stadium.

Can we heighten our performance?

This year, other than the men’s 1600 meters relay, it figures that with the athletes available, The Bahamas could possibly medal in the women’s 4 x 200, women’s 4 x100 and the women’s 4 x 400.

Responsibility for coordinating the development process of track and field falls on the BAAA. It is also the BAAA that is obligated to exhaust all efforts to ensure that the best teams are in place to represent the country. Unfortunately, in the past, for the most part, the country has excelled on the resilience, basically, of or athletes and their supporters, financially and otherwise.

The BAAA has not been a major player in the rise to international prominence of The Bahamas, known as a mighty little nation in track and field. The relationship with elite athletes has been poor and the BAAA has not been able to consistently arrange to get our best athletes, home and in camps to be best prepared to go against their world peers.

Hopefully this situation will be addressed in due time so that the third version of the IAAF World Relays would see The Bahamas uplifted to more than one medal.

A nation is very proud of our athletes, but in this political season, a third successful IAAF World Relays would be another feather in the cap of Prime Minister Christie, to give him some balance against the criticisms he receives.

(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup1504@gmail.com).

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