Sport

The Bahamas ready for World Relays, says Sands

BY PAUL A REID Observer writer reidp@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, May 04, 2014    

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THE inaugural IAAF World Relays will run off in Nassau, The Bahamas, on May 24 and 25, and Mike Sands, president of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA), said his country is ready to welcome the world.

"Our arms are wide open to welcome the world and we will put on a great show," Sands told the Jamaica Observer at the recent Penn Relays Carnival in Philadelphia.

With a brand new Mondo track at the Thomas A Robinson Stadium that was still to be "striped" (marked) up to last weekend, Sands said no efforts would be spared to ensure a first-class championship, worthy of the IAAF's lofty standards.

"Preparations are in full gear, we are working 24/7 to cross the 'Ts' and dot the 'Is'," Sands told the Observer, "to ensure everything is in order, the IAAF sets some very high standards but we are satisfied that we will meet those standards".

The two-day event will see an estimated 800 athletes from 48 countries, including Jamaica, taking part in five relay events from the 4x100m to 4x1,500m, and including 4x200m, 4x400m and 4x800m.

According to the event's website, initial entries showed 762 athletes -- 440 men and 322 women comprising 90 men's teams and 64 women's teams spread across the five events.

The Bahamas will host the 2015 staging and the top eight teams from this year's staging will automatically qualify for the second staging.

The Bahamas hosted the 2013 Carifta Games at the then newly opened Thomas A Robinson Stadium and this will be the second major event to be staged there, and Sands said they were "extremely excited; when you look at a country our size being able to host this inaugural event, not just a world event, but the inaugural event says a lot for the confidence the IAAF put in us, and so it is our intentions to ensure that the expectations are met if not exceeded".

With no global event to use as a blueprint, Sands said the learning curve will be huge and both themselves and the IAAF will learn from the event.

"There is no real template for this because it is the inaugural event and so there is a learning curve for everyone and we are working hand-in-hand and shoulder-to-shoulder with the IAAF...so we learning and they are learning," Sands reiterated.

The Bahamas, Sands said, will have long-lasting benefits from the staging of the event. "There is going to be a transfer of knowledge that is going to be left with the Bahamian officials and I am extremely excited and proud to be leading the Bahamas Association at this time."

Training of officials, he said, had started and while the IAAF will have their personnel in key positions to ensure the smooth running, Bahamians will be in every area. "The IAAF has had several site inspections and, of course, they have their people who will head the sections, but the Bahamians will be responsible for executing the event in tandem with the IAAF," he pointed out.

The locals, he said, were just as excited about the event as evidenced by tickets for the two afternoon sessions going well.

"Bahamians by nature do not buy tickets in advance," Sands said, "but if you try to buy a group of say four or five tickets together in the grandstand it will be very difficult; the tickets have been pre-sold to the great extent; a few are left for seats on the back stretch, but the grandstand is sold out."

The Bahamas relay pools should be announced this weekend. "Then they will go to training camp but the doors will not be closed to those who were not named initially as up to deadline of May 12, we will add or delete if necessary to the squad."

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