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Teammates share Bajan roots

Tony Best

Teammates share Bajan roots

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What ties?bind two world-class athletes together?
At least four things come to mind.
At the top of the list is the fact that they both have Bajan family roots. Next, they share the same last name. Third, they were members of Canada’s track and field team at the World Athletics Championships in Moscow. Fourth, they are now the proud holders of bronze medals, albeit for Canada and not Barbados.
When Justyn Warner helped to put Canada on the medal podium after the 4×100-metre relay, he joined Damian Warner, who a few days earlier had captured Canada’s first medal at the Games.
Warner then followed his fellow Barbadian-Canadian to the podium as a key member of Canada’s relay team that came in third after a set of circumstances that were similar to what had happened at the 2012 Olympics in London, except that the Bajan-Canadian left Moscow as a medal holder and he didn’t depart from London with the much cherished bronze.
A year ago, Warner and his younger brother, Ian, missed a bronze at the 2012 Olympics in London when Jared Connaughton, a member of Canada’s 4×100 relay team was disqualified after taking the third spot. But in Moscow, things turned out differently.
Warner, Dontae Richards-Kwok, Gavin Smellie and Aaron Brown earned the bronze after Britain were disqualified when video footage showed that one of their runners completed the second baton exchange well outside the zone. After Canada lodged an appeal, Britain was disqualified.
Looked at another way, the third-place finish in Russia erased the sad memories of the calamity in London when after the Canadians celebrated their bronze medal, they were disqualified for breaking the rules.
“This is huge, Great Britain are a great team, but I’m happy for us,” Warner said after Canada had been declared the third-place finisher at the World Championships.
“Overwhelmed we did it. We put all the work together. I’m at a loss for words and just so happy. Rules are rules; we dealt with it last year.”
Smellie, who like Warner suffered the pain of the disqualification in London, put it differently.
“I’m so ecstatic, especially thinking back to last year and what happened,” he said. “To come back and get a bronze, I’m so happy.
“We competed to the best of our ability and we leave here (Moscow) with a medal. This isn’t just for us, it’s for everybody, we’re going to take these medals home and show them to our families, share them with all of Canada.”
The bronze in the relay was the fifth medal for Canada at the Championships, the most the country has ever won.   
Earlier in the competition, Damian Warner, who narrowly missed out on a medal last year in London, took a bronze in the decathlon.
The experts rank him among the world’s best athletes and they believe that if he had performed at his usual high standard during the first day of competition in the decathlon contest, he would have won a silver medal, if not the gold.
Damian, whose father Kevin Warner lives in Barbados, acknowledged that he hadn’t competed as well as he could have on the first day but came back the next day and took the bronze.
Incidentally, Justyn, whose younger brother Ian, who currently attends Iowa State University in the United States was also in Canada’s Olympic team. So too was Justyn’s wife, the former Nikitta Holder, a world-ranked 100-metre hurdler who also has Bajan roots.
After the Olympics, Justyn and Nikitta tied the knot. The mothers of the bride and groom knew each other from their early days in Barbados.