ON THE WAY TO THE SEMIS: Steven Gardiner. Photo: Kermit Taylor/Bahamas Athletics
#By BRENT STUBBS
#Senior Sports Reporter
#LONDON, England: It was a fantastic start for national 400 metre record holder Steven Gardiner as he began his quest for a medal at his third appearance at the IAAF World Championships. However, the debut on the field for national triple jump record holder Tamara Myers didn’t lead to the next round.
#The duo took centre stage for the Bahamas’ 24-member team on day two of the 16th version of the biannual championships at the Queen Elizabeth National Stadium, following sprinter Warren Fraser’s two rounds in the men’s 100m on the epic opening night.
#In his race, Gardiner pulled away from the field in the fourth of five heats in the men’s 400 metres and coasted to victory in 44.75 seconds. He had gotten out so fast in the first 200m that by the time he came of the final curve and onto the straight away, he had enough space to look back and check on the other competitors in pursuit.
#“The first round was pretty good. I felt relaxed. I had to go out there and take control of the race pretty early and set the pace before someone run something crazy,” Gardiner said. “I took out the first 200, maintain coming around the top bend, used my technique and looked to the left and saw no-one there, so I just came home smoothly.”
#His time turned out to be the second fastest behind Isaac Makwala of Botswana, who posted the leading mark of 44.55. They head into Sunday’s semi-final when Gardiner will run out of lane five against NCAA champion Fred Kerley representing the United States in seven and Jamaican Nathon Allen, the NCAA runner-up, in six. Another American, Wilbert London III, will trail Gardiner in four and Jamaican Nathon Allen in six.
#Gardiner was originally matched in the same heat with Republic of South Africa’s Wadye Van Niekerk, who smashed the world record last year in winning the Olympic gold medal. But Van Niekerk will now square off against former Olympic and world champion LaShawn Merritt in a rematch of last year’s Olympics in heat two, lanes six and seven respectively.
#“I feel very good. I won my heat, so I just have to go out there and win the semis,” said Gardiner, who will have to finish in the top two or wait for one of the two next fastest times to book his lane in the final on Tuesday at 4:50 pm EST.
#“You can expect a nice strong run. The heats were pretty good, so I expect the semis will be like a final.”
Tamara Myers receives instructions. Photo: Kermit Taylor/Bahamas Athletics
#Myers was looking to at least produce a personal best in her first championships, but she only landed one mark, a leap of 13.41 metres or 44-feet that placed her 13th in Group B and 24th out of a field of 26 as she failed to advance to the final as one of the top 12 performers.
#“I felt good in my warm up, but the only problem I had was when I went out there, I got faster on the runway and that affected my performance,” said Myers, who fouled her first two attempts before she finally made the adjustment to get in her only legal jump. “I’m happy that I got to jump here and even though I didn’t move on, it was a good day for me.”
#Myers, whose season’s and personal best of 14.03 (46-0 1/2) enabled her to be one of three Bahamians invited by the IAAF to compete in an individual event this year, said she’s glad of the opportunity she was given to fulfil one of her long-time dreams and she thanked everybody who assisted her in her journey.
#“I like the weather here, even though the rain came when we were on the runway,” she stated. “Overall it wasn’t too bad. I know the competitors that I’ve jumped against. I’ve seen them compete all over the world on television, so it helped me to train in the future as I prepare to come back here (at the World Championships and Olympic Games).”
#Head coach Dianne Woodside said they’re pleased with the first two days of competition from the first three competitors and they’re eager to see what the remaining athletes will do, starting with Shaunae Miller-Uibo in her quest to go for the rare 200/400m double.
#“We have Shaunae in her two events, hopefully Steven in the final of the men’s 400, Teray Smith, TyNia Gaither and Anthonique Strachan in the 200m, Devynne Charlton in the 100m hurdles, Donald Thomas in the men’s high jump and Bianca Stuart in the women’s long jump, then we will start preparing for the relays,” she said.
#“From those events, I think we will do very well and then we can start focusing on the relays,” she insisted. “We are in all four of them, so we are still in the process of trying to see how we will put those teams together, once everybody would have completed their individual events.”
#Thomas was one of the last members of the team to arrive in London and, based on what she’s seen, Woodside-Thompson said he’s looking good and so they expect a fantastic performance from him as well.
#As for the conditions in London, Woodside-Johnson said they are adjusting to mixture of sunshine, cool and rain, which those who competed at the Olympics in 2012 experienced, so they know what to expect. She said the athletes have all settled into the games village and are enjoying the 5-star amenities, but her only regret is that there could be more of a variety with the food.
#Along with Gardiner, Miller-Uibo will be the only other Bahamian in action Sunday when she runs out of lane three in the second of five heats in the first round of the women’s 400m. Her arch rival American Allyson Felix, who has the world’s fastest time this year, will get the ball rolling, running out of lane two in the first heat. Another American, Quanera Haynes, who has the second fastest time, is in lane eight in heat five.
#The first three and the next six fastest finishers will move on to the semi-final on Monday, starting at 3:55 pm EST. The final will be on Wednesday at 4:50 pm EST.