Commonwealth Games champion looking forward to competing in Freeport this weekend
Back home in The Bahamas, LaQuan Nairn has been making the rounds since becoming the first Bahamian to win a gold medal in the men’s long jump at the Commonwealth Games. He paid a visit to the Nassau Guardian yesterday, and while he’s happy to be home, he said the work is not done.
Nairn will leave for Freeport on Wednesday, set to compete in the 4th North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Track and Field Championships which will be held this weekend, August 19-21, at the Grand Bahama Sports Complex in Freeport, Grand Bahama. Nairn is a part of a 30-member team from The Bahamas that will represent the country at home.
Nairn, 26, made history a couple weeks ago, winning gold in the men’s long jump at the 22nd Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England. He had a winning leap of 8.08 meters (m) – 26’ 6-1/4”. It was tight competition for the gold as the top three jumpers were separated by just two centimeters. As mentioned, Nairn is the first Bahamian to win a gold medal in the men’s long jump at the
“It feels great – just to accomplish something like that. It feels good representing my family and representing the country. I feel great about it,” said Nairn. “I’m looking forward to competing in Freeport this
weekend. I’m just going to go there, compete to the best of my ability and hopefully get the gold and break the national record this time. I’m looking forward to that.”
Nairn is number two all-time in the men’s long jump among Bahamians, trailing just national record holder Craig Hepburn. Nairn has a season’s and personal best leap of 8.22m (26’ 11-3/4”) and he’s chasing Hepburn’s national record of 8.41m (27’ 7-1/4”). He said he thought he would get close to that mark in Birmingham, and is now optimistic about breaking the record before the season is over. He already has the national record indoors – a mark of 8.18m (26’ 10”).
“I was a little disappointed in my performance in terms of the distance because I wanted to break the national record, but at the same time, getting the win was more important,” said Nairn. “I’m going after the record. I believe it’s in me. I just have to stick to it, continue to work hard, trust the training and trust the process.
“I have great deal of respect for Craig Hepburn and what he was able to do back in the day. I’m looking forward to breaking his record because it’s been there for so long. Records are meant to be broken and I believe that I’m going to do it. He was a great competitor and a great jumper in his day and he always gives me great advice. I’m looking forward to breaking the record though. When the jump comes, it will come.”
Hepburn’s national record has stood the test of time, lasting for 29 years. It was set at the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) National Track and Field Championships in Nassau, The Bahamas, on June 17, 1993.
Reflecting on the atmosphere in Birmingham, Nairn said the competition was intense and the crowd was exuberant. Murali Sreeshankar, of India, had an identical leap as Nairn of 8.08m, but Nairn had the better second-best jump to give him the edge. Jovan Van Vuuren, of South Africa, had a best leap of 8.06m (26’ 5-1/2”) for the bronze.
The previous best result for a Bahamian long jumper at the Commonwealth Games was silver status by Steve ‘Sir Bandi’ Hanna in 1982, and the previous best mark by a Bahamian long jumper at the Commonwealth Games was 7.92m (26’) by Osbourne Moxey in 2002.
“I thought it was going to take around 8.20 to 8.30 to win,” said Nairn. “I knew coming in that the Indian jumper was pretty good. He’s the number two jumper in the world this year, and there were a bunch of other guys who are really good. That was an amazing competition. That was definitely the best competition that I have been in, in my entire life. The crowd in Birmingham was lively and enthusiastic – they really got into it. It was a well-organized meet and I would love to jump in Birmingham again.”
For now, it’s off to Freeport though, set for the NACAC Track and Field Championships this weekend. Following that, Nairn will return to Europe to compete in a few meets before ending his season.
In 2023, he said he will be looking to compete on the Diamond League circuit. The Bahamian jumper has had a fantastic season, improving on his previous personal best jump by more than half of a foot and climaxing his performances with a Commonwealth Games title. He finished 18th overall at the World Athletics Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon, finishing with a best jump of 7.80m (25’ 7-1/4”). Nairn said he’s looking to continue to progress. He got his Diamond League debut in Oslo, Norway, this year, and yearns for a return.
“It was a blessing to just be on that stage competing and having that experience,” said Nairn. “I’m looking forward to Diamond League next year. At Commonwealth, I believe I made up for Worlds in a lot of ways, particularly mentally. After Worlds, I wasn’t upset. I just knew that there was something greater out there for me. I know there is more in me.”
Nairn is coached by his former collegiate coach Travis Geopfert in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He is listed as number 11 on World Athletics Top Performance List for 2022 with his season’s and personal best leap of 8.22m.