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DOHA, Qatar — The Bahamas welcomed its newest world champion on Friday night at the IAAF 17th World Championships after Steven Gardiner ascended on the top of the podium, improving on his silver medal performance two years ago in London, England.
Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations president Drumeco Archer was one of the first persons to greet Gardiner in the Khalifa International Stadium after his national record breaking performance of 43.48 seconds that placed him sixth on the all-time performance list.
“This was indeed the day that we have all been waiting for,” Archer said. “I’m just boded over with excitement, not just for Steven, but for the Bahamas itself. Steven becomes only the second male to win a 400m at the Worlds in Bahamian history, second only to Avard Moncur.
“I think this is truly a moment and the message that was delivered at the stadium was one that the Bahamas has one of the greatest 400m runners in the world and our history would show that.”
Archer and the BAAA executives hosted a reception for Team Bahamas on Saturday night.
At a time when the country is still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Dorian in Abaco and Grand Bahama, Archer said the performances in Doha is only a reminder of the strength of the country.
“I think Steven Gardiner represents the strength of track and field along with Shaunae Miller-Uibo,” Archer said. “I think Shaunae’s performance was historic in many ways, but collectively as a country, we see ourselves as being one of the best in the world and I hope this is the measure for our up and coming young athletes.”
Archer further noted that he was surprised that one of the managers of one of the country’s elite athletes commented that he believes that Grand Bahamian Terrance Jones, who competed in the men’s 200m preliminaries, resembles a younger version of Gardiner which speaks volumes for his future.
While Gardiner brought the curtain down on Team Bahamas’ appearance at these championships, he joined Miller-Uibo, who the night before secured her third straight medal and her second silver in the women’s 400m in a NACAC area and Bahamian national record of 48.37 and a sixth ranking on the all-time performance list as well.
Lanisha Rolle, the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, left Doha the night before Miller-Uibo contested the 400m final and Timothy Munnings, the Director of Sports, departed the night before Gardiner’s triumph.
However, Rupert Gardiner, who was a part of the government delegation here, offered the praises of his senior government collegiate.
“From the Government of the Bahamas, the Prime Minister and Honourable Lanisha Rolle, we congratulate Stevie for his gold medal and Shaunae for her silver medal,” said Gardiner, the national coach at the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture.
“Both of them did very well. Shaunae could not run any better than she did. They both executed their races very well. Being the national coach, we salute them both for a job well done.”
The Bahamas ended the championships without having any teams in either the 4 x 100 and 4 x 400m relays over the final three days of competition. As the relay coordinator for the BAAA, Gardiner said it was quite disappointing for the country.
“We had some hook-ups this year with the relay teams. They didn’t qualify,” he said. “But we will go back to the drawing board and we will work on the plans to get them ready for Tokyo (for the 2020 Olympic Games).
“We will assemble those athletes who can get our teams to Tokyo. I don’t think the Bahamian people should worry about us not having any relay teams in Tokyo. We should definitely have at least two teams there.”
Gardiner could not reveal any plans for the government to celebrate the performances of the athletes. But he said there are plans in the making for the country to honour and show their appreciation to them.
Before leaving Doha, Munnings confirmed that as the champion, Gardiner will earn $40,000 from the government, in addition to his $60,000 from the IAAF, while Miller-Uibo will collect $30,000 for her silver from the government in addition to her $30,000 from the IAAF.
While they wait for the celebrations, Claude Bryan, whose On Track Management serves as the management agency for both Miller-Uibo and Gardiner, said Gardiner’s performance is one that the country should take notice of.
“43.48 says it all. When you sit with an 18-year old and lay out a plan and you watch him check all the boxes as he progress culminating with a world title to God be the glory and most of the credit to Stevie,” he said.
He gave further credit to Gardiner’s parents, Enid White, former coaches Rev Anthony Williams and George Cleare, present coach Gary Evans, Mabeline and Shaun Miller and his main sponsor Adidas.
“The unheralded is now being heralded globally as the best one-lap runner in the world,” Bryan said of the Murphy Town native. “He deserves every accolade that can come his way.”
Gardiner, 24, emerged as just the second Bahamian male to capture a world title. The first was Avard Moncur in 2001 in Edmonton, Canada. It’s the eighth gold medal won by the Bahamas to go along with nine silver and eight bronze for a total of 25 for 15th place at the global championships in track and field, staged every two years.