UPDATE: The Bahamas 4x100m men's relay team has qualified automatically for the IAAF World Championships in London in August after a raft of disqualifications in Saturday night's final.
Three teams - Canada, Great Britain and the Netherlands - all failed to finish the A final, which means the top three in the B final are moved up in the overall rankings. That trio of Trinidad & Tobago, Germany and the Bahamas now complete the top eight guaranteed a place in London.
By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
ALTHOUGH the fans showed their appreciation in cheering them on for their efforts, day one of the IAAF/BTC World Relays did not turn out as expected from Team Bahamas.
But there were much celebration for the two-time defending Golden Baton champions, the United States, who emerged on top of the standings with 22 points, double the tally of their nearest rivals, Australia. Jamaica is in third with eight with Germany, Barbados and Belarus tied for fourth with seven and the People’s Republic of China and France in eighth, both with seven points as well.
In the first final of the two-day competition, the women's 4x800m, the Americans led from start to finish to take the title in 8min 16.36sec for a season’s best to share the top prize of $50,000 after taking their victory lap.
Belarus had to settle for the silver in 8:20.07 and Australia picked up the bronze in 8:21.08.
After that performance, the Jamaican 4x200m team anchored by Olympic double sprint champion Elaine Thompson got their fans in a frenzy as they celebrated from start to finish in smashing the championship record in a new time of 1min 29.04sec.
The night closed with the men’s 4x100m final as Justin Gatlin sped home well ahead of the field in 38.43 seconds. Barbados moved up for the silver in their season’s best of 39.18 and the People’s Republic of China got the bronze in 39.22.
But it was what happened during the race that mattered the most. Great Britain, the Netherlands and Canada, featuring Olympic star Andre de Grasse, all failed to finish as they experienced the same fate as Jamaica, with former world champion Yohan Blake, on anchor in the heats as they failed to advance to the final.
After falling short of qualifying for the final, the Bahamas held a slight lead going into the final leg of the B final, but on the home stretch, Adrian Griffith missed out on the opportunity to celebrate as he was caught in the closing metres by Trinidad & Tobago and Germany.
Griffith, anchoring the trio of Warren Fraser, Shavez Hart and Cliff Resias, ended up third in a season’s best of 39.18 seconds as Trinidad & Tobago surged to the front for victory in 39.04 chased by Germany in 39.18, a season’s best as well.
The same quartet of Fraser, Hart, Resias and Griffith ran 39.36sec for fourth in their heat and 10th overall. But they had their share of problems as well as the exchange between Hart and Resias was not that smooth and it cost the Bahamas the lead.
“It’s something that we will have to work on,” said Fraser about the team’s performance in the B final. “We definitely have a lot of work to do if we want to go to London.” Fraser was referring to the IAAF World Championships in London, England in August. The top eight teams in both the men's and women's 4x100m and 4x400m automatically qualify.
While the men’s 4 x 100m fell short, Olympic gold medallist Shaunae Miller-Uibo ran a superb opening leg and world 400m leader Steven Gardiner an exceptional anchor leg, but it wasn’t enough to get the two 4x400m teams into the final and an automatic berth into London.
Miller-Uibo, running in lane seven in the second of three heats, powered past Canadian Carline Muir in the first 200m and gave the rest of the team what seemed like an insurmountable lead.
But that wasn’t enough as Anthonique Strachan held on to it on the second leg, but coming into the exchange, the Bahamas dropped into second. The Bahamas continued to lag as veteran Christine Amertil made her way around the track.
On the final exchange to rookie Rashan Brown, the Bahamas eventually faded into fourth coming onto the home stretch. Their time of 3min 34.40sec was good for 11th overall and out of the final.
Despite the fantastic comeback on the anchor leg by Gardiner, which he started fifth, he and the combination of Michael Mathieu, Demetrius Pinder and Andretti Bain ran a season’s best of 3min 05.37sec for third in their heat, but ninth overall as they missed the final spot to get into the final.
The Bahamas men’s team will run in lane four in Sunday’s B final and the women’s team will be in lane five in their B final.
In the men's sprint event, The Netherlands went on to secure the win in the heat in 38.71 for the first of two automatic times into the final. The other was the People’s Republic of China in second in 38.97. The Bahamas, however, was 10th overall and just missed out like the men and women 4 x 400m in qualifying for the final and a berth into the World Championships at home.
But both the Bahamas men and women 4x400m teams will get a chance to redeem themselves when they compete in the B finals on Sunday.
The championships will conclude on Sunday starting at 7.35pm with the preliminaries of the men’s 4x200m and ending with the introduction of the much anticipated mixed 4 x 400m (with two men and two women).