By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
The drought is finally over. Kyron McMaster ran a controlled race for the first half, began making his move after 250m, then left the field in his wake to lead a Caribbean sweep of medals in the 21st Commonwealth Games 400-meters hurdles last Thursday night in Gold Coast,Australia, when he stopped the clock with a winning time of 48.25 seconds.
It was territory’s first medal in its 28-year history of competing in the games.
At the end of the race, McMaster walked over, hugged his agent Norman Peart, grabbed the BVI flag, then bent down and let out his pent up emotions in memory of his late coach Dag Samuels who guided his development, before perishing in Hurricane Irma last September.
In just his second race of the season, McMaster’s 48.25 seconds time improved his own world leading mark of 48.78 seconds that he used to advance to the final and paced the Bahamas’ Jeffery Gibson and Jamaica’s Jaheel Hyde to the finish line for the coveted Caribbean sweep.
“Warming up, I felt that I was going to do good because I was relaxed and I want to thank my friend Tehymal (Huggins) everyone knows him as Dabby. He kept me calm. He cracked jokes with me and he made sure my mind wasn’t too much on the race and pressured by what everyone wanted from me,” McMaster explained. “He told me just to enjoy the race like how coach (Dag Samuels) would in an actual race. The first phase wasn’t as I wanted but, I just remembered what coach would have told me just in case something like that happened, stay calm and relaxed. When I saw that I was in a position to take control of the race, I took control of the race and ran home with the gold.”
It was the first time that McMaster was in competition without his coach Dag Samuels who guided him from his early development including a CAC Age Group Championships medal in 2009.
“Competing in the first championships without my coach was really hard. Being able to be successful was something we talked about as I developed,” McMaster reflected. “His not being there was hard for the moment. But then, I realized, this is what he wanted and I’m living his dream through me right now, so I’m just happy that I could have been able to deliver.”
McMaster’s historic performance came on a night that three other BVI athletes were competing and saw a total of two other advancing to finals tomorrow. Five athletes advanced to finals overall—a first for the territory—and another two were in the semifinals, since track and field competition began on Sunday.
Chantel Malone placed fifth in the women’s long jump final with a season’s best leap of 6.48-meters (21’3”), after a fourth place showing in Glasgow four years ago.
“Coming into the competition, I was just trying to erase yesterday’s performance,” said Malone of the 6.29m (20’7¾”) leap that got her into the final. “I was having a lot of trouble on the runway, hitting the board and not fouling, things like that. So, going into today, I was just thinking, be aggressive and put the foot down. I think something is going on with my run. I can’t put a finger on it at the moment. I was able to pull off the 6.48 jump and I was happy with that, but, I’m still not happy with the overall performance. Of course I wanted a medal at these games. My focus moving forward is to get all the little things down so that I can be able to medal at the other games—NACAC (North American Central American and Caribbean Championships) and CAC Games.”
Tynelle Gumbs was ninth in the women’s discus throw with a season opening mark of 47.04 meters (154’4”) after placing seventh in the Hammer Throw with a personal best of 60.97m (200’0¾”) a new national and OECS record.
Twin sister Trevia, competing in the women’s shot put final, didn’t record a legal measurement. She used a 14.03m (46’0¼”) throw in the shot put, for her finals berth, where she ended the season with a season’s best 14.12m (46’4”) to finish 12th and wrapped up the territory’s participation in the games.
“My technique just wasn’t coming together,” Trevia noted. “I did as best as I could and came ninth, didn’t make the final but I’m happy for the experience and happy to compete against such great throwers.”
Despite fouling two of three throws, Eldred Henry used a season’s best 50.43m (165’5½”) in the men’s discus throw to advance to the final. He improved to a season’s best 50.96m (167’2¼), where finished eleventh in the final.
Five of the eight athletes including McMaster—Malone—long jump; twin sisters Tynelle and Trevia Gumbs—hammer throw and shot put respectively and Eldred Henry—both shot put and discus throw, were all finalist, the BVI’s best showing, while Tahesia Harrigan-Scott and Ashley Kelly were 100m and 400m semifinalists.
The BVI first participated the Commonwealth Games in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1990.