With the exception of the International Association of Athletics Associations’ Golden League events, the World Cup in Athletics is probably the single biggest track and field event this year, and five Bahamian stars are named to the Americas team.
The 10th IAAF World Cup will be hosted on September 16 and 17 in Athens, Greece. This event, which will close out the season for many Bahamian athletes, will be held one week after the Grand Prix Final in Stuttgart, Germany, and two weeks after the Golden League finale in the German capital of Berlin. President of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations Mike Sands said: “I congratulate the athletes that have been selected to represent the Americas.”
He noted that “our athletes are making a statement,” because they were selected from the IAAF world rankings list. “This will be a very strong team and they will be competitive,” said Sands. “There will be some very fast times, particularly in the 4×100 metre relays,” he pointed out.
Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie and Chandra Sturrup make up half of the women’s 4x100m relay team. They’ll be joined by world leader in the women’s 100 metres, Sherone Simpson, and her Jamaican compatriot Sheri-Ann Brooks, along with Cydonie Mothersill of the Cayman Islands.
Ferguson-McKenzie and Sturrup are ranked seventh and 10th best in the world respectively, with Simpson holding down the number one spot. Brooks and Mothersill are ranked 13th and 14th respectively. “I know that our Bahamian athletes will make a meaningful contribution to the success of Americas team,” said the BAAA president.
However, with Sturrup still nursing a shoulder injury, her availability for the World Cup team is uncertain. She has struggled this year, and might decide to sit out the rest of the season and begin rehabilitation for next season.
The Americas team is also the favourite to win the men’s 4x100m relay with the likes of world record holder Asafa Powell of Jamaica leading the way. Others named to the men’s team are Dwight Thomas and Michael Frater also of Jamaica, Marc Burns of Trinidad & Tobago, and 2006 Central American and
Caribbean Games Champion Churandy Martina of the Netherlands Antilles. Before the recent eight-year ban on American Justin Gatlin was enforced, the American team would’ve been considered the ones to beat.
There was no doubt that Tonique Williams-Darling would be named to the Americas team. She’ll be accompanied by Christine Amertil in the women’s 4x400m relay. Joining the Bahamian quarter-milers are Jamaica’s Shericka Williams and Novlene Williams, along with Hazel-Ann Regis of Grenada. However, only Novlene Williams will contest the women’s individual 400m dash for the Americas team.
According to the latest IAAF World Rankings list released last week (Aug. 21), with the exception of Regis from Grenada, all of the other athletes are ranked in the top 10 in the world. Novlene Williams is ranked third in the women’s 400 metres with Williams-Darling fourth, Amertil sixth, and Shericka Williams seventh.
The only Bahamian male named to the World Cup team is quarter-miler Chris Brown, who will be a part of the 4x400m relay team. Joining Brown in the relay will be Alleyne Francique of Grenada, who’s also competing in the individual 400m, Michael Blackwood of Jamaica, and Tyler Christopher of Canada. Though the United States will be heavily favoured to win the men’s mile relay, the team from this region has to be considered one of the favourites as well.
Sands anticipates the number of athletes with high performances from this region will increase, because they are focusing and training for the World Championships and Pan American Games next year.
“It’s not going to be easy due to the fact that we are competing against the world’s elite athletes. However, being that these are the best athletes the Caribbean has to offer, our confidence is high.”
The Americas team consists of 58 athletes from more than 10 countries around the region. There will be 10 officials, including three co-managers: Patricio Smith of Chile, Maureen Switzer of Canada and Garth Gayle of Jamaica. Additionally, Carlos Cavalheiro of Brazil will be the technical co-ordinator of the team, assisted by Bahamian Frank ‘Pancho’ Rahming. The team will travel with two doctors and three physiotherapists. They will leave for Athens on Monday, September 11, and are expected to return the following week on September 18.