Updated 11 August 2011
Rondell BARTHOLOMEW, Grenada (200m, 400m)
Born: 07 April 1990, St Patrick, Grenada
Lives: Levelland, Texas, USA
Coach: Blaine Wiley
Manager: Mark Wetmore
Rondell Bartholomew’s first ever sub-45 clocking came as a huge surprise.
The Grenadian quarter-miler is an emerging star in the men’s 400 metres event, and went into the 2011 season with a personal best of 45.28 seconds. A 44-point clocking, therefore, was on the cards. What was surprising was that he managed to dive under 45 seconds in his season opener.
On April 2, at the Texas Tech Open, in Texas, USA, Bartholomew clocked 44.65 seconds to shoot to the top of the 2011 world performance list. And he did it with absolutely no competition, the runner-up finishing more than two seconds back, in 46.85.
Bartholomew, who was just 20 when he clocked 44.65, admits to being surprised by the world leading run. He’s convinced, though, it won’t be the last time he creates a stir.
“With the right work I can run a lot faster.”
Five days after his Texas Tech scorcher, Bartholomew celebrated his 21st birthday. He plans to do some more celebrating at the World Championships, in Daegu, Korea. His goal is “to win the gold medal”.
“Just making the finals is not really achieving anything. You always got to aim higher.”
Bartholomew made his professional debut on June 11, at the adidas Grand Prix Samsung Diamond League meet, in New York, USA. It was evident at that meet that he’s ready to battle with the big boys.
Bartholomew finished third in 45.17 seconds – the second fastest time of his career. Among the quarter-milers he beat to the line were Bahamian Chris Brown – the reigning World indoor champion – and Trinidad and Tobago’s 2009 World Championships bronze medallist, Renny Quow.
When Bartholomew produced his superb 44.65 seconds run in Texas, he did not expect to still be the world leader four months later. He was eventually nudged out of the top spot on August 5 by fellow Grenadian Kirani James, the 18-year-old phenom clocking 44.61 to win at the Aviva London Grand Prix Samsung Diamond League meet, in London, England.
“It is true we are a small island, but we have very talented people,” Bartholomew declares.
Grenada, a tiny southeastern Caribbean island with a population of just 104,000, can now boast of having two of the best quarter-milers in the world.
Bartholomew and James are building on a solid foundation laid by Alleyne Francique.
Francique put Grenada on the map with World indoor titles in the men’s 400 metres event in 2004 and 2006. But his best finish at the outdoor World Championships is sixth, at the 2001 edition of the meet, in Edmonton, Canada and he also boasts a fourth place finish at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
So, the race is on, between Bartholomew and James, to become the first Grenadian to earn precious metal at the World Outdoor Championships.
And then, in 2012, the world will witness the race to become Grenada’s first ever Olympic medallist. Bartholomew has big dreams for the London Games.
“To go and win, and to run an amazing time.”
Betting against Bartholomew might not be the wisest move. So far, he has proven to be a young man who achieves his goals. In early April, he attained his sub-45 goal. His next target is Daegu gold.
But while Bartholomew is determined to realise his full potential on the track, he also has a spiritual focus. In fact, he says his biggest accomplishment to date is “achieving my goals and meeting God along the way.”
The profile picture on Bartholomew’s Facebook page is a clear indication of his Godly focus. The image of Jesus, looking heavenward with his hands clasped in prayer tells the story of a man who relies on God in the pursuit of his goals.
Bartholomew says his biggest disappointment is “not being able to put it together when it matters”. That statement reflects an understanding of his own humanness, and the need to rely on a greater power.
While many young athletes have idols in the sport – big-name performers who inspire them – Bartholomew does not. A brother and an uncle are his idols.
And the young man from the parish of St Patrick, in north Grenada, says his mother, Charlene Bartholomew, has “played a big role in my life and my track and field career”. She is one of the people who encouraged him early on.
Bartholomew says he first got involved in track and field at high school. He realised he was good at it “at the age of 14 or 15”.
Bartholomew was just 17 when he whipped his regional rivals to be crowned boys’ under-20 400 metres champion at the 2008 Carifta Games, in Basseterre, St Kitts. His winning time, 46.86 seconds, was a personal record (PR) at the time.
Bartholomew sliced a big chunk off of his PR in the 2009 Carifta Games final, the talented teen completing his one lap of the track in an impressive 45.58 seconds.
Amazingly, the clocking was not good enough for Bartholomew to make a successful defence of his title. He was beaten to the line by 16-year-old James, the younger Grenadian clocking 45.45 to lead a one-two finish for his country.
With the Bartholomew/James rivalry likely to continue for many years, track and field fans are in for an extended treat.
Bartholomew is also a fan of the sport.
“I'm a fan because I love the sport. I don't go to (meets) focused on just my event. There are other runners that have worked hard to get where they are.”
Bartholomew also has a passion for football, and earlier in his life considered pursuing it seriously. But with track and field taking centre stage, there’s no time for football in Bartholomew’s schedule.
“None at all. I can’t do two things at the same time.”
With such a singular focus, there’s no telling what Rondell Shawn Bartholomew can achieve on the track.
200: 20.95 (2010)
400: 44.65 (2011)
200/400: 2008: 21.61/46.86; 2009: 21.09/45.58; 2010: 20.95/45.28; 2011: 21.00A, 20.48w/44.65
2008 1st Carifta Games U20 (Basseterre) (400) 46.86
2008 sf World Junior Championships (Bydgoszcz (400) 47.60
2008 6th Commonwealth Youth Games U19 (Pune) (400) 48.21
2009 2nd Carifta Games U20 (Vieux-Fort) (400) 45.58
2009 3rd Pan Am Junior Championships (Port-of-Spain) (400) 46.61
2009 5th Pan Am Junior Championships (Port-of-Spain) (4x400) 3:11.91
2009 heats World Championships (Berlin) (400) 46.85
2011 5th CAC* Championships (Mayaguez) (4x400) 3:04.27
* CAC = Central American & Caribbean
Prepared by Kwame Laurence for the IAAF “Focus on Athletes” project. Copyright IAAF 2011