Tonique Williams-Darling on August 24, 2004, made history by capturing The Islands Of The Bahamas’ first individual gold medal in any Olympic Games.
In Athens, Williams-Darling crossed the finish line first in the women’s 400 meters final in a time of 49.41 seconds. She held off stiff competition from Mexico’s Ana Guevara, who finished in 49.56 seconds, and Natalya Antyukh, who crossed the finish line in 49.89 seconds.
“I can’t wait to get home and celebrate,” Williams-Darling said from Athens shortly after winning the race.
Christine Amertil, another Bahamian middle distance runner, also competed in the Olympic 400 meters final. She finished seventh in the field of eight runners.
The Bahamas’ first Olympic gold came in 1964 for sailing. The only other gold in the Olympic Games came in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, when the women’s 4×100 team finished ahead of the United States’ relay team.
The Bahamas’ high-level performance at the Olympic Games continues to “defy odds,” Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie said. He pointed out that, on a per capita basis, The Bahamas’ single medal in Athens could make the country the leading Olympic competitor since The Bahamas has a total population of just 300,000.
“The gold medal performance of Tonique Williams-Darling in the 400 meters women’s final in Athens constitutes a proud Bahamian history,” Prime Minister Christie said. “It was a stupendous victory and a historic one at that for it marks the very first time in Olympic history that a woman from the Caribbean has won a gold medal in an individual track event.”
Officially, Williams-Darlings’ gold medal moved The Bahamas into a three-way tie for 42nd place in medal standings at the Games. United Arab Emirates and Cameroon also stood at 42nd.
More than 200 countries are competing in the XXVIII Olympic Games.