Gold medal glory for Nairn, disappointment for Kendrick Thompson
MAKING HISTORY: Laquan Nairn, of The Bahamas, poses on the podium after winning the gold medal in the long jump final during the athletics competition in the Alexander Stadium at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, on Thursday, August 4, 2022. (AP Photos/Alastair Grant)
#By BRENT STUBBS
#Senior Sports Reporter
#BIRMINGHAM, England — In sports in general, there’s the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Team Bahamas experienced both ends of the spectrum over the weekend at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
#While LaQuan Nairn got the chance for the Bahamas flag to be raised and the national anthem played inside Alexander Stadium for his triumphant victory in the men’s long jump, Kendrick Thompson had to withdraw from the men’s decathlon with an injury.
#It came during the pole vault competition on the final of the two-day competition on Friday for the 10-event competition.
#As he ascended for his first jump at 4.40 metres, Thompson knocked the bar down and landed awkwardly on the apparatus.
#The 24-year-old, making his debut as the first Bahamian to compete in the decathlon at the games, could not continue as he suffered a sprained left ankle.
KENDRICK THOMPSON, of the Bahamas, throws the discus in the decathlon during the athletics in the Alexander Stadium at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, on Friday, August 5.
#He got some medical treatment as the morning session was completed and he prepared for the final two events in the evening.
#Sitting in seventh place going into his specialty in the javelin, Thompson struggled to get in one throw with (50.88m) as he grimaced in pain.
#He ultimately called it a day and withdrew from the competition.
#Unable to come back for the gruelling 1,500m and to enjoy the celebrations that comes at the completion of the event, no matter who wins or loses, all of Thompson’s performances from one day in the 100m (11.18), long jump (24-4 ½), shot put (38-3), high jump (6-4 1/4) and 400m (50.07) with the final day’s ledger in the 110m hurdles (14.72m), discus (125-10), pole vault (13-9 1/4) and javelin (165- 10), didn’t matter.
#His account didn’t have an end balance because of his absence from the 1.500m. He sat in pain and watched as Grenada’s Lindon Victor sealed the gold with 8,233 points ahead of Australian duo Daniel Golubovic (8197) and Cedric Bubler (8030) who picked up the silver and bronze respectively.
#There was no question that at the other end of the spectrum, there was great celebrations for the achievement of Nairn on Thursday night as the first Bahamian male athlete to win a gold medal at the games.
#After he emerged out of the qualifying round on Tuesday with the second best jump of 25-11m behind India’s Sreeshankar with the only automatic qualifying mark of 26-5 over the standard of 26-3, Nairn guaranteed “gold” and even predicted that Craig Hepburn’s national record of 27-7 ¼ set back in Nassau on June 17, 1993, would fall.
#It came down to a duel between Nairn and Sreeshankar for the gold after they both cleared 26-6 ¾.
#But while Nairn had already taken the lead on achieving the mark first on his second attempt, Sreeshankar needed to surpass his effort in the fifth attempt.
#On the final attempt as Jovan van Vuuren had already settled for the bronze with a scratch, but the third best mark of 26-5 ½ as well on his second try, Sreeshankar fouled his final try to hold onto the silver.
#That left Nairn as the last man standing and with the gold already wrapped up. His final attempt only produced 26-2 ¾, but it didn’t matter. The 26-year-old former CR Walker basketball star, who went on to compete for St John’s College, would ascend the podium as the Commonwealth’s best for 2022 and Hepburn could still breath a sigh of relief as his record remained intact.
#Nairn, who has now completed his eligibility at the University of Arkansas and is on his first year as a professional athlete, said he would go after the record when he returns home for the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Championships in Grand Bahama August 18-21.
#It was a turnaround for Nairn from the World championships two weeks ago when he placed 18th with a best of 25-7 ¼, compared to Sreeshankar’s seventh in the final with 26-1 ½. Nairn attributed his achievement to legendary long jumper and coach Peter Pratt, aswell as his close friend and rival Kaiwan Culmer for their assistance on the runway.
#“That’s crazy. I don’t know what to say,” Nairn said. “First Bahamian male to win a gold medal, it’s just a blessing. I thank my family, my mother, Monalisa McKinneu, my father Lourawls Nairn Sr and my big brother Tum Tum (Lourawls Nairn Jr). I don’t know what to say.
#“This is for you all. I love you all and I appreciate you all, the Nairn family and the McKinney family. I just appreciate all the love and support you have given. I love you all.”
#With the jammed-packed stadium cheering him on, Nairn said he never experienced anything like this in his life.
#“I got one piece of the goal, which is the gold medal. This is very important to me,” said Nairn after he claimed his first global medal in the process.
#“I still have some more meets, I think going back home to the Bahamas for the NACAC Championships is a good place to break the national record.”
#For now, the celebrations have begun for Nairn and it’s back to the drawing board for Thompson as he recuperates form his injury as the two Bahamian athletes deal with their contrasting conclusions at the games.