ATHLETES work out at the Grand Bahama Sports Complex a day before the start of the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Championships that is expected to feature more than 400 athletes from over 10 countries in the region, including the United States, Jamaica and Cuba. Photos: Vandyke Hepburn/BIS
#By BRENT STUBBS
#Senior Sports Reporter
#Coach Lonnie Greene said although his first priority is on high hurdles national record holder Devynne Charlton, he is just delighted to be able to assist any Bahamian athlete who needs his help.
#Greene, the head coach at the University of Kentucky, is in Grand Bahama for the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Championships that is featuring more than 400 athletes from over 10 countries in the region, including the United States, Jamaica and Cuba.
#Although he’s not a part of the Bahamian coaching staff, Greene said wherever there is a need for his service, he is willing to assist Team Bahamas’ 11 women and 17 men who will compete in the NACAC Championships that will be held in memory of the late former athlete/ coach/executive/administrator Anita Doherty from today through Sunday at the Grand Bahama Sports Complex.
#“After the devastation of Hurricane Dorian, we have to do everything we can as a nation to try and generate commerce, the interest of sports tourism, to help Grand Bahama get back to normal,” Greene said.
#“I don’t think people take into consideration what it takes to bounce back from a hurricane. It could be earthquakes, it could be a tornado, whatever. Bouncing back isn’t easy and being able to generate heads in beds and getting dollars into local companies is vital.”
#So, when it was announced that NACAC would take the championships to Grand Bahama, Greene pegged it on his schedule for him and Charlton to attend. Charlton, a graduate assistant at the University of Kentucky, opened the season by winning the silver medal at the World Indoor Championships, placed seventh at the World Championships in Birmingham, England after her national record of 12.40 in the semifinals before she picked up another silver at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.
#“She’s having a phenomenal year,” Greene pointed out. “At the end of the day, her performances have all been legal. People could question windy performances if they want to, but I always tell people, if the wind is at your back, you run faster, but the wheels still have to turn. “A person could run fast and break the world record in windy conditions, but the wheel still has to turn for them to run that fast. Devynne has run 12.40s and I always thought she had that in her and possibly she can run 12.30s by the time we get to the Grand Prix Finals.”
#Greene, who first recruited Charlton to run for him as the head coach at Purdue University where she had a stellar collegiate career with the Boilermakers, said the goal is to get her to finish off the year strong, get some rest and do it all over again next year. But he said there’s nothing like competing at home. “The people in the stands will be cheering for her,” he pointed out. “Ninety percent of the crowd will be pulling for the 242. It’s like Team USA. When they came out to the World Championships in Eugene, the crowd went crazy.
#“In this great nation of us called the Bahamas, we’re home in Freeport, Grand Bahama. The way they look at it, it’s the Bahamas versus the rest of the world. That’s how they will compete. Their national pride is going to come forth. Bahamians are proud people. They will be there to cheer on the Bahamians.”
#While the lineup is expected to be a pretty good one for the women’s 100m hurdles, Greene said the goal is to get Charlton back on the podium and hopefully this time it will be on the top as the gold medallist.
#Although he only had a short time, Greene said he was also glad to give some pointers to Shakeem Smith, who will be representing the Bahamas in the men’s 400m hurdles at the championships.
#Smith is a graduate of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and is now venturing onto the pro circuit.