Despite the circumstances brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic, this was a respectable season for Bahamian Anthonique Strachan, and under normal conditions, she would have qualified for her third consecutive Olympic Games.
However, COVID-19 struck in March, and athletes the world over were left in disarray. Some chose to go on, taking part in limited events which took place under strict safety measures and social distancing protocols, while others threw in the towel on the 2020 season and looked ahead to 2021.
Even the Olympics were postponed, set to be held in an odd year for the first time in its 100-plus year history. Still branded as the 2020 Summer Olympics, the global multi-sport event is now set for July 23 to August 8, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Strachan, who trains with the famed Maximising Velocity & Power (MVP) Track and Field Club in Kingston, Jamaica, was not going to be deterred. She took part in all seven Velocity Fest meets in Jamaica this year, and was the only Bahamian to travel to Europe for the shortened Diamond League season. Strachan took part in the final two Wanda Diamond League Meets this year – in Rome, Italy, and Doha, Qatar.
In Doha, in particular, the site of last year’s world championships, Strachan was tested for COVID-19 on her arrival in the city and even afterwards as she exited. She finished fifth in the women’s 100 meters (m) on Friday, matching the season’s best time of 11.42 seconds that she did a week earlier in Rome. She took a test in Jamaica and while transiting other cities before arriving in Rome.
Be that as it may, she said it was worth it to get back in a competitive atmosphere and under usual race conditions. Safety measures and social distancing protocols were in place in respect of the COVID-19 pandemic, but otherwise, pre-race procedures and guidelines were followed. Strachan said it felt like a true Diamond League meet in both Rome and Doha.
Back on this side of the world, the seasoned Bahamian sprinter said she is looking forward to progressing even further in 2021. She shut down her season after Friday’s race in Doha.
“Overall, I’m very satisfied with how the season went,” she said. “Once the Olympics was postponed, and training facilities closed, we went to the grass and I lost hope in a season happening. As it turned out, I had a progressive one (season) and finished healthy. I ran times I haven’t ran in five or six years during a pandemic with limited meets so I’m happy with that.”
Strachan was referring to her two best times in the 200m this year, 22.67 and 22.72 seconds – both ran in Jamaica in Velocity Fest meets. She hadn’t run 11.42 and 22.67 in the short sprints since 2014. With that, the 27-year-old Bahamian sprinter proved that she still has what it takes to compete with the world’s best, even though she never quite matured into the elite sprinter many thought she would be after a stellar junior career. Strachan was the number junior one female sprinter in the world at one point, running to world leads in 2012 and winning the double sprint world titles at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Junior Championships in Barcelona, Spain. She went on to win the IAAF Female Rising Star Award in 2012.
Strachan has personal best times of 11.20 seconds in the 100m and 22.32 seconds in the 200m. The latter has her tied for fourth with Savatheda Fynes on the all-time top list for Bahamians. Just Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie and Pauline Davis-Thompson have faster times. She is ninth on the all-time list for Bahamians in the 100m.
Strachan’s top end speed is still among the world’s best, but she has always struggled with getting out of the blocks and generating speed in the first 20 meters of her races. She usually accelerates around the 30-40m mark.
The Bahamian female sprinter has struggled with injuries throughout her career, most recently a grade two hamstring tear at last year’s world championships in Doha. She bounced back strongly this season and is looking forward to continued progression in 2021. If not for the suspension of the Olympic qualifying period to December 1, Strachan would have already qualified for the Olympics in the women’s 200m. She remains confident that she will eventually qualify.
For now, Strachan is just grateful to end the season healthy and in top form.