Caribbean falls short
Hubert Lawrence, Gleaner Writer
The Caribbean was sky high after the London Olympics, with 21 medals overall and gold medals won by Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, The Bahamas and Grenada. The region came down to earth with just 15 medals at the recent World Championships. Worse yet, it was punctuated by the shocking loss of Grenadian superstar Kirani James.
James, the Olympic and 2011 champion, ran an uneven race and blew up in pursuit of LaShawn Merritt in the 400m final. He ambled through the first half of the race and lost ground rapidly to the speedy American. When he hit the gas, it was in vain and he was spent.
Merritt was magnificent. He lowered his personal best to 43.74 seconds. That's more than two-tenths of a second faster than James has ever run.
The Grenadian hero faded to seventh and took a 'certain' Caribbean medal off the table. That shock set the tone for the region. Jamaica ended three medals down on the dozen garnered in London. Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago's Keyshorn Walcott and The Bahamas 4x400m team, surprise winners in London, all fell short this time.
Sanchez defied Father Time by reaching a sixth 400 hurdles final but started slowly and couldn't recover. Thankfully for the Caribbean, the race was won by Trinidad's Jehue Gordon, the 2010 World Junior Champion.
Gordon fought off favoured American Michael Tinsley in one of the Championships' best races. They ran neck and neck off the last hurdle with the man in red and black edging home, 47.68 to 47.70 seconds.
By contrast, Walcott's spotty season ended with elimination in the javelin qualifying round.
The Bahamas lost key relay team members Demetrius Pinder, Michael Mathieu and Ramon Miller to injury. That left Olympic bronze medallist Trinidad and Tobago with a chance to move up but their anchor man Deon Lendore got hurt in the 4x400 semis.
The Bahamians bad luck got worse in the women's 4x100m. The sky blues had crafted together a blend of youth and experience and finished first in their heats. Sadly, the team was disqualified in what might have been the last big international championship for the erstwhile Golden Girl Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie. It was equally sad that The Bahamas missed the medals for the first time since 1993.
In London, seven Caribbean nations won medals. When the carnage was complete, only Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba and the Dominican Republic made the Moscow podium.
Among those Caribbean countries to fall off the radar was Puerto Rico. Their main man Javier Culson had won two silvers and a bronze in the last three major championships but finished sixth in the 400 metre hurdles this time.
It wasn't all doom and gloom. Gordon is just 22 and Luguelin Santos, third in the 400m, is only 20. So is Walcott and so is James. They'll all be back in time for the 2015 Worlds. By then, the Caribbean might just bounce back.