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Covid-19 Pandemic Leaves Us Wondering What Could’Ve Been

Steven Gardiner and Shaunae Miller-Uibo.

Steven Gardiner and Shaunae Miller-Uibo.

As of Monday, April 20, 2020

#By RENALDO DORSETT

#Tribune Sports Reporter

#rdorsett@tribunemedia.net

#The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live, learn and are entertained in 2020…perhaps for the foreseeable future. The sports world is included in the latter. It’s big business with the power to change lives, but at the most basic level – it’s one of society’s most gratifying forms of entertainment (hence an entire newspaper section dedicated to it).

#That entertainment, sports, is all but gone at this point. It may be the least important of the many things this pandemic has stripped away from us, but we lament its loss nonetheless.

#This is why the most mundane transactions have dominated the sports news cycle, why we’ve dedicated coverage to athletes playing video game versions of themselves, or playing backyard shooting games with legitimate stakes attached (this HORSE tournament put on by the NBA might be the moment we feared, we’ve hit rock bottom).

#In The Bahamas, we lament the loss not only of sport but of the moments this spring and summer were expected to deliver.

#We were supposed to rally behind our favourite school programmes and drape ourselves in the flag in the purest form of nationalism any of us get to experience as we cheer on Bahamian athletes abroad.

#This year was supposed to provide many of those moments, but with the world on hold, we’re all left in a state of purgatory, wondering what could have been.

#Tokyo 2020

#Every Bahamian with a feigning quadrennial interest in track and field should have been locked in for this one. What we know is that we have two of the world’s top quartermilers in Shaunae Miller-Uibo and Steven Gardiner. What we also know is they were both headed to Tokyo with something to prove.

#Miller-Uibo is the defending Olympic champion, with a dive at the finish line that grabbed international headlines and won gold over Allyson Felix in Rio 2016. Winning consecutive Olympic golds is a task unto itself, but now we had a new nemesis in the field, Salwa Eid Naser of Bahrain.

#The track and field world thought Miller-Uibo would cap a dominant 2019 season with a gold at the World Championships, but Eid Naser came from nowhere to run one of the fastest times ever in the event and pull off the upset. Tokyo was supposed to be our moment of retribution.

#Gardiner took advantage of an opportunity with reigning Olympic champion and world record holder Wayne Van Niekerk sidelined due to injury for much of 2019. Gardiner’s gold at the World Championships catapulted him to the top of the sport…that is without Van Niekerk in the lineup.

#The South African sprinter won gold and set a 400m world record at Rio 2016, but had not run competitively since the 2017 World Championships. He returned in February and has been very vocal in his positive view of the Olympic postponement.

#“I see it as more time to work, more time to prepare, more time to invest in the rest of my career,” he told BBC Sport.

#We needed to see the reigning World Champion and Olympic Champion go at it head-to-head.

#March Madness

#The NCAA tournament is the greatest revenue draw in American sports outside of the SuperBowl and any time we get Bahamians to be apart of the madness it provides an additional reason to pay attention to college basketball (or wager for entertainment purposes only).

#Before COVID-19 brought conference tournaments to a screeching halt, Charles Bain and his Robert Morris Colonials received an automatic bid, while on the women’s side, Lashann Higgs and the Texas Longhorns were expected to receive an at-large bid in the field.

#The Colonials, NEC champions could have made of those “Cinderalla” runs we all become enamoured with this time of year, Higgs could have made headlines and boosted her WNBA draft stock in her final collegiate season. The uncertainty of the tournament has always been its greatest draw.

#Basketball

#High School Nationals

#The Sunland Stingers won a depleted Hugh Campbell championship in a field void of several perennial contenders (CI Gibson and Tabernacle), but the true test of perhaps our most competitive high school sports is the showdown between the best of the best at nationals.

#CARIFTA Swimming

#Going After Number Four

#The 36-member swim Team Bahamas was going after its fourth straight championship title and its sixth in the past seven years had the meet taken place in Barbados over the Easter Holiday weekend.

#In winning last year’s title, The Bahamas picked up a total of 73 medals, inclusive of 35 gold, 18 silver and 20 bronze to finish well ahead of Jamaica, who had 22 gold, 25 silver and 12 bronze for their total of 59.

#The Bahamas also finished with 889.50 points ahead of runners-up Jamaica with 748.50.

#The Bahamas has won three straight CARIFTA swimming titles and five of the last six.

#In Water Polo, the Bahamas’ under-16 boys are the defending CARIFTA champions. The U14 coed team won a silver medal, while the U19 team won bronze

#World Baseball Classic Qualifiers

#Team Great Britain (its really Team Bahamas if we’re being truthful about this), was expected to make the leap and qualify for the WBC in 2021.

#Then of course, COVID-19 forced Major League Baseball to suspend all operations indefinitely, altering the offseasons of Bahamian players with their clubs and others preparing to compete at the qualifiers.

#Major League Baseball suspended operations indefinitely which includes bringing an abrupt end to spring training, delaying opening day for both the major and minor leagues and also postponing the WBC Qualifiers indefinitely.

#There are currently 20 Bahamians in minor league baseball and many of those players were expected to compete for Great Britain at the upcoming WBC Qualifiers.

#The official roster announcement was just days away from release, but several players had already confirmed their participation with the programme.

#Bahamian baseball players have been on the roster for Great Britain at the last two editions of the qualifiers and both sides looked to continue that relationship at this year’s event at the Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Arizona in March.

#Great Britain was set to compete in Pool two, March 20-25 against the Czech Republic, New Zealand, Panama, Philippines and Spain.

#Liam Carroll, manager for Great Britain, said the success of having Bahamians on the roster has been vital in the growth of the programme.

#With Antoan Richardson and Albert Cartwright on the roster, Great Britain went 1-2 during the 2013 Qualifier played in Regensburg, Germany, where it debuted in the WBC. Their tournament highlight was a 12-5 win over the Czech Republic.

#At the 2017 Qualifiers in Brooklyn, New York, Richardson and Cartwright were joined by Ali Knowles, Jazz Chisholm, Kyle Simmons, Todd Isaacs, Reshard Munroe, Byron Murray and Champ Stuart. That team finished just one game shy of WBC qualification when they suffered a 9-1 loss in the final.

#Bahamian players are eligible to compete for Great Britain once their parents were born in the Bahamas while it was still a British colony, prior to Independence.

#Jazz Gets The Call

#Everything was trending toward Jazz Chisholm getting the call up to “The Show” with the Miami Marlins at some point this season.

#The 22-year-old shortstop was set to make his 2020 debut in AAA baseball with the Wichita Wind Surge of the Pacific Coast League and the AAA affiliate of the Marlins.

#The No.3 ranked prospect in the organisation made nine spring training appearances and hit .308 with three RBI, one home run, scored four runs, with a 1.115 OPS and two stolen bases.

#Chisholm has continued to make strides for the organisation this season as he progresses toward the major leagues.

#He was among the top prospects from each Major League Baseball organisation represented at the Rookie Career Development Programme in Miami, Florida.

#Each organisation sends their top prospects expected to reach the big leagues in the near future to sit through sessions aimed at easing their transition.

#Sessions included ones on media training, clubhouse relationships, drugs in baseball, inclusion and financial planning and others.

#He was also present at the Marlins’ annual Fanfest which gave fans their first opportunity to interact with the 2020 roster.

#His personality and production on the field was already endearing him to the Marlins fanbase as the franchise continues to rebuild in its youth movement. We were certain to have at least one more reason to visit Miami.

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