Athletes deliver strong performances in testing winds at Bermuda Games
There was no postcard Bermudian weather but Saturday’s USATF Bermuda Games did deliver some solid performances at the Flora Duffy Stadium with strong winds and rain providing a stern, early-season test for the close to 140 athletes on hand.
Dark clouds, chilly conditions and headwinds that at times registered upwards of five metres per second down the home stretch were enough to encourage marquee sprint hurdler Grant Holloway to decide against competing minutes before his event was scheduled to start, despite going through his warm-ups.
“Flip the track [meaning race in the opposite direction]. Please and thank you. It’s possible. Think about the athletes and not the viewers @usatf @nbc,” Holloway lobbied on Twitter. “The wind is -4.6 right now. Please. Think about the athletes and not the viewers.”
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While the inaugural staging of the event got a unanimous thumbs-up from the competitors, the moans and groans about the weather were constant throughout the three-hour meet. However, there were some strong performances at the event, which sports minister Ernest Peets is already hoping to pencil into the calendar next year.
The conditions did not stop Olympic champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn from posting a world-leading 12.67sec clocking in the 100 metres hurdles in a 2.5mps headwind, one of the highlight performances at the World Continental Tour Gold meet.
Americans Chanel Brissett (13.06) and Christina Clemons (13.15) were second and third.
“I was nervous at first, just because of the strong headwind, but I knew what I had to do,” Camacho-Quinn told The Royal Gazette. “World lead? I don’t know how to feel about it. I still have other things that I am more focused on, but I will take it.”
Camacho-Quinn’s time may dominate the headlines across the world, but it was local middle-distance man Dage Minors, who managed to get the near-capacity crowd on their feet with his gutsy third-place finish in the 1,500.
With the entire stadium willing him on, Minors crossed the line in 3min 46.82sec to finish behind Kenya’s Kamar Etiang (3:45.26) and the German Amos Bartelsmeyer (3:45.35).
Minors is hoping that his performance will provide inspiration.
“I can’t explain it, for some reason it just felt super-easy,” Minors said. “I think it had to do with the crowd; they carried me on. I am just a regular guy. I work as a schoolteacher, I don’t get any sponsorship, I wake up 5.30 every morning, run, do my thing and come back.”
With a nod towards the social state of the island after two murders in the past week, Minors added: “I hope that what I do on the track can inspire a young Bermudian because there isn’t much positivity out there.”
The other Bermudian in the event, Lamont Marshall, finished eighth in 4:10.86.
There was disappointment in the men’s triple jump for Jah-Nhai Perinchief, who could register only one jump — 15.75 — which left him in fourth place behind winner Chris Benard (16.57), Jordan Scott (16.37) and Kawain Culmer (15.82).
Canada’s Jerome Blake took the men’s 100 in 10.38, getting the better of Erriyon Knighton (10.39) and Noah Lyles, who was also clocked at 10.39. Bermuda’s Tre Houston suffered an injury in his heat and did not progress to the final.
The women’s event went to Teahna Daniels in 11.45, with Gabby Thomas (11.49) and Javianne Oliver (11.62) ensuring that Americans would take the top three spots.
Jamaicans Shiann Salmon (55.35), Rushell Clayton (55.89) and Janieve Russell (56.56) returned the favour in the women’s 400 hurdles.
Shericka Jackson, the Olympic bronze medal-winner in the 100 and 400 from Jamaica, took the one-lap event in 51.40 ahead of compatriot Candice McLeod in 51.57 and American Jaide Stepter Baynes in 51.93.
Grenadian star Kirani James delivered a strong performance to win the men’s 400 in 45.63 ahead of Britain’s Alex Haydock-Wilson in 46.05, with Jamaican Jaheel Hyde third in 46.27.
The first event of the day, the women’s triple jump, was won by another Jamaican, Shanieka Ricketts, the World Championships silver medal-winner, who posted a best mark of 14.15, which she achieved on her third attempt.
Ricketts, who has jumped 14.29 this season, was well below her personal best of 14.98, but finished ahead of Naomi Metzger, the Briton, who jumped 14.00. American Michelle Fokam was third with 13.42.
In the women’s 200, Bahamian Anthonique Strachan was strong in her finish, posting 23.24 to hold off American Dezerea Bryant (23.72) and Briana Williams (23.82). The win for Strachan arrives ten years after she won the Carifta Games sprint double in the same stadium.
“I am excited be back and repeat what I did back then,” Strachan said after the event. “I am satisfied with the performance because it wasn’t really great conditions, but I still came out on top.”
In one of the most exciting finishes on the day, Bahamas’s Steven Gardiner came out on top in a battle to the line against Trinidad & Tobago’s Jereem Richards. Gardiner clocked 20.79, a mere seven hundredths of a second ahead of Richards, with Emmanuel Matadi, of Liberia, third on 21.04.
Meanwhile, Peets welcomed the event, which he hopes to see develop into a yearly fixture.
“First of all, it’s amazing that we are having this event,” the sports minister said. “The atmosphere here today is incredible. When I was arriving and saw the crowds building, there was a lot of excitement in my heart.
“This is a real game-changer for our local sport, particularly track and field, so I am really excited to be a partner with the Ministry of Tourism. Hats off to the BTA.
“These are the types of things that are necessary for us to continue to grow our local talent. Obviously, Bermuda is a great destination and our economy can certainly use the uplift. So we are really excited and I definitely think this should be an annual event.”
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