‘*Hawk’ confident women’s 4x100m relay squad can return to the medal podium

Bahamian Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie pictured after crossing the finish line in second place in the Women’s 4x100m relay final at the 2009 IAAF World Championships in Berlin, Germany.

The women’s sprint relay squad was the last set of qualifiers for Team Bahamas for this year’s IAAF World Championships. Nevertheless, the star power is definitely there, and Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations’ (BAAA) public relations officer Alpheus ‘Hawk’ Finlayson is confident that they can win a medal.

The team shocked everyone with a stunning silver in the 2009 Berlin World Championships. That team was anchored by Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie who most likely will be the anchor of this year’s squad as well. The 13th International Association of Athletic Federations’ (IAAF) World Outdoor Championships will get underway on August 27 in Daegu, South Korea, and will run through September 4.

“I think that this team could compare very well to the team that won that silver medal in 2009. Remember, that team surprised everyone and I think that this squad has the ability to do so as well,” said one of the most respected men in Bahamian athletics, Alpheus Finlayson. “When you look at that 2009 team, that team had Chandra and Christine, but I believe that this team could gel well together as well. They still have to go out there and perform but I am confident that they could do that. Once they perform up to their potential, I have no doubt that they could win a medal.”

That 2009 squad which ran the final consisted of Sheniqua Ferguson on the lead-off leg, Chandra Sturrup running second, Christine Amertil on the third leg, and Ferguson-McKenzie anchoring. They ran a season’s best time of 42.29 seconds in the final for the silver medal. Two of the four members return this year in the persons of Ferguson and Ferguson-McKenzie. They will be joined by 2007 World Youth bronze medalist in the 200m Nivea Smith, 2011 World fastest junior in the 200m Anthonique Strachan, long jumper Bianca Stuart and the versatile Cache Armbrister. The team of Ferguson, Ferguson-McKenzie, Smith and V’Alonée Robinson ran a time of 43.62 seconds to qualify for the World Championships at the BTC Jr. and Sr. National Track and Field Championships.

“Well, they qualified kind of late because it was difficult for us to get them together,” said Finlayson. “We knew that once we got Debbie with the girls from Auburn, we would have a realistic shot of qualifying. Now that they have qualified, I know that they have what it takes to win a medal,” he added.

Unlike the women, the men’s sprint relay team failed to qualify for this year’s World Championships. The team of Jamial Rolle, Adrian Griffith, Demetrius Pinder and Michael Matthieu, in that order, ran 39.29 seconds in the 4x100m heats at the Sr. Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Championships in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, in June. The team with Warren Fraser and Rodney Green inserted in replace of Pinder and Michael Matthieu, ran 39.46 seconds in the final. The World Championships qualifying standard is 39.20 seconds.

“Those guys not qualifying was disappointing, but the men have to wish to do it,” said Finlayson. “They were very close at qualifying at the CAC Championships, but remember that was with two guys who run the 400 meters and who would have figured prominently into the relay for the 4×400 meters. I’m not sure that in the actual championships, we would have had the liberty to have them run in that as well as their other events.

“As I am aware there were opportunities for the guys to qualify but the right guys have to wish to participate in the events what would allow them to qualify. I feel as if there were some opportunities earlier in the year that they should have taken advantage of, and they didn’t. We’re working on that for next year though. We are actually in discussions with putting together a relay pool for the 2012 Olympics and the 2013 World Championships, because I have no doubt that we should have at least three relay teams in Daegu.”

At the end of the day, there will be only two relay squads at the Daegu World Championships. The men’s 1,600m relay squad is a strong contender for a medal, and the women’s sprint relay squad just might pull off another surprise and win another medal.