Wed | Oct 4, 2023

World Relays should stay in the region – Sands

Published:Friday | January 20, 2023 | 12:46 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer
World Athletics President Lord Sebastian Coe (left) and Mike Sands, President,  North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association.
World Athletics President Lord Sebastian Coe (left) and Mike Sands, President, North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association.

The North America, Central America and the Caribbean region dominates relays at the Olympics and the World Championships. That has led the region’s top athletics administrator to believe that the World Relays meet should become a staple in this part of the world.

The event returns to The Bahamas next year, and North America Central America and Caribbean (NACAC) federation President Mike Sands would love it to stay in his region. Speaking in Jamaica on January 14, the two-time Bahamian Olympian noted, “I do believe that NACAC deserves an event such as the World Relays to be a staple in our area. That’s something we’ll have to look forward to working with World Athletics as well.”

The first three editions were held in The Bahamas in 2014, 2015 and 2017 before moving to Japan in 2019 and Poland in 2021.

“You know, I think we kind of framed the way in which the World Relays should go, because as I said, World Athletics didn’t have a template. We didn’t have a template but together, our collective minds produced what we feel were still the best editions of the World Relays,” Sands recounted.

The Bahamas won the right to host next year’s event after a presentation to the World Athletics Council in November.

“If you look at the Bahamas’ presentation, they said bring it back home where it started. I don’t know if that resonated with the decision-makers, but home is exactly how we see it, that it belongs in The Bahamas, and if not The Bahamas, our NACAC area,” he echoed.

“So I have been one,” he added, “without secret or hesitation, to agitate for our area to be a staple of an event such as the World Relays, recognising what we as an area produce in terms of relays.”

At the 2022 World Championships, Canada won the men’s 4x100m, with the Dominican Republic taking the mixed 4x400m, and the USA collecting gold medals in the women’s 4x100m, the men’s and women’s 4x400m relays, ahead of Jamaica each time.

With the USA leading the way, NACAC has long been a dominant relay power. The sprint-rich region has won 19 of 26 Olympic gold medals in the men’s 4x100m, 16 of 23 in the women’s 4x100m, 21 of 25 in the men’s 4x400m and eight of 13 in the women’s 4x400m.

When the World Relays were last held in The Bahamas, local heroes Shaunae Miller-Uibo and Steven Gardiner piloted a home win in the mixed 4x400m and the NACAC President knows Bahamians will come to watch them at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.

“Like anywhere, the hometown wants to root for its own, obviously, and having the likes of Stevie and Shaunae and hopefully within the next year and a half, we’ll have some young ones in the pipeline,” he said.

“We are comfortable that we will be making a very good representation of ourselves on home soil,” Sands concluded.