Bahamian multi-event athletes Ken Mullings and Kendrick Thompson have been going back and forth in the men’s decathlon over the past three years, with each breaking the national record on multiple occasions, and they’re both still relatively young in the sport. Thompson will turn 25 this summer, just a few months younger than Mullings who turned 25 in April.
Mullings first took down a 30-year mark in April of 2019, scoring 7,427 points at the University of Miami (UM) Hurricane Alumni Invitational in Coral Gables, Florida. Since then, the national record has been broken four times – once by Mullings and three times by Thompson, with the new record standing at 7,788 points accomplished by Thompson at the Jacksonville Athletic Club’s (JAC) Combined Events Qualifier at The Bolles School in Jacksonville, Florida, over the weekend.
Both men are still chasing the lofty world championships qualifying total of 8,350 points, which would give them automatic qualification for the World Athletics (WA) World Championships in Eugene, Oregon, this summer. There are other ways to qualify, but both Mullings and Thompson want to qualify outright, and both are looking to do it at their next meet – the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) Youth, Junior & Senior National Championships from June 24-25 at Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.
“Me and my coaches have made a lot of improvement on the areas that I fell short in, in my last competition,” said Mullings. “I’m just looking forward to going to nationals and correcting a lot of wrongs that I did. It’s just about going there and putting together a strong 10 events. That’s the plan.”
In his last meet, Mullings won the area title for the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) region in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, prevailing with 7,537 points at that meet last month.
Thompson is coming off a hip flexor injury. He appears healthy again and is looking for a strong performance at the nationals.
“It really means a lot to me that I was able to finish the Jacksonville meet healthy,” said Thompson. “I have a couple weeks until nationals to sharpen up on a couple of my events. Hopefully by nationals, I would get the marks that I need to qualify for the worlds. I know that I could do it. I just need to bring it out. By nationals, I’m confident that I could pull it off.”
Prior to Mullings and Thompson exploding in the men’s decathlon for The Bahamas, the previous best by a Bahamian in the 10-event competition was 7,421 points by Antonio Greene all the way back in 1989.
Over two days of competition on Sunday and Monday, Thompson, representing the University of The Bahamas (UB) Mingoes, won all 10 events in Jacksonville to set the new national mark at 7,788 points. His previous personal best and national record was 7,762 points which was done at the UM Hurricane Alumni Invitational in Coral Gables in April.
After his performance on Sunday and Monday, Thompson said: “I’m really happy that I was able to win all 10 events. To me, that is an accomplishment within itself. I’m really happy with my overall performance and I’m just looking to sharpen up some more. I’m also happy with the record and I know coach (UB Head Athletics Coach Ednal Rolle) is happy for the record. We were looking at going for 8,000 points to give us a chance to qualify for the world championships. I fell short in two events in Jacksonville but I know how to rebound and go after the goal.”
As mentioned, there are other ways to qualify for the world championships. There are wildcard entries for a reigning world champion, a 2021 Diamond League Champion, and as the current area champion from an athlete’s respective area championships. Athletes can also qualify via their World Athletics rankings.
Mullings was able to check off one of those requirements – winning the NACAC area title in Ottawa last month. The BAAA would now have to file an official request on his behalf for world championships qualification.
Mullings scored 7,537 points at the NACAC Combined Events Area Championships, winning eight of the 10 events over the two days of competition. His personal best points total is 7,734 points, done at the BAAA National Championships last year.
It remains to be seen whether or not Mullings will get the nod for the world championships as the area champion. There are six area associations under World Athletics and the respective area champions are recognized and rewarded for their efforts.
Whether he gets the nod or not, Mullings is looking to qualify outright on points.
“Me and my coaches are definitely confident that I could get the job done. We just have to go out there and execute in all 10 events. I’m looking forward to being consistent and getting the job done,” he said.
As mentioned, both are expected to be in action at the BAAA National Championships at Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium later this month, looking to attain automatic qualifying marks for the World Athletics World Championships.
Both Mullings and Thompson are coached by Ednal Rolle – head Athletics coach at University of The Bahamas.