Four-time Olympic medalist Chris “Fireman” Brown joined Clayton State Athletics as assistant track & field coach yesterday.
A veteran of five different Olympic Games and one of the most well-known sprinters to hail from the Bahamas, Brown steps into collegiate coaching for the first time following a tremendous international career.
Over the course of a career that has spanned two decades, Brown has won medals world-wide but reached the peak of his career on the grandest stage of them all, the Olympic Games.
Competing for the Bahamas as a 21-year old, his first experience on that stage came in 2000 at the Sydney Olympics. There he was part of a 4×400-meter relay team of Avard Moncur, Troy McIntosh, and Carl Oliver that earned the Bronze Medal with a time of 2:59.23.
Brown would return to the games in 2004, competing in Greece but it would not be until 2008 when he would see the medal stand again. That would come at the Beijing Olympics as he teamed with Andretti Bain, Michael Mathieu, and Andrae Williams in the 4×400, running a time of 2:58.03 to claim the Silver Medal. Brown would also just miss out in the 400-meters, finishing in fourth place.
It wouldn’t be nearly so long a wait for his next trip to the podium and it would be the most satisfying yet. Competing at the 2012 London Olympics, Brown, Demetrius Pinder, Mathieu, and Ramon Miller would best the United States for the 4×400 Gold Medal as they ran a time of 2:56.72.
Performances like that earned that group the name “The Golden Knights” in their native land. It was also the first Gold Medal for the Bahamas in a men’s competition, was a national record, and was the third fastest time by a 4×400 relay in the Olympics.
On top of earning that medal, Brown also finished fourth in the 400-meters and served as the flagbearer for the Bahamas at the opening ceremonies.
He would return to the Olympic stage one more time at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games and, as he had done in three of his four previous trips, would not come away empty handed. Teaming with Alonzo Russell, Mathieu, and Steven Gardiner, he earned his fourth Olympic medal, claiming Bronze with a time of 2:58.49. In a show of the esteem that his country holds him in, he was named Team Captain of the Bahamas Olympic Team that year.
One doesn’t reach the Olympics, and certainly not five times, without having an impressive international resume, and The Fireman is no exception. Since entering the scene in 1997 he has earned a total of 28 medals at the international level, including seven gold, 10 silver, and 11 bronze.
Among his most successful outings was the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro. There he earned gold in both the 400-meters and 4×400-meter relay. It is not his only time earning multiple medals at one event either.
He took bronze in the 400 and 800-meters at the 1997 CARIFTA Games and the gold in the 4×400 and silver in the 400-meters at the 2003 Central American and Caribbean Championships in St. Georges, Grenada. Two years later he would nearly replicate that feat with a gold in the 4×400 and bronze in the 400 on his home turf in Nassau, Bahamas.
Brown has also competed in at least eight biennial International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) World Indoor Championships. Of the 20 medals the Bahamas has won in the history of that event, he possesses six of them, including one of the nation’s three gold medals.
The latter was earned in the 400-meters in Doha, Qatar in 2010 while he claimed silver in 2014 at Sopot, Poland (400m) and in 2016 in Portland, Oregon (4×400). His time of 45.58 in Sopot is still his personal best. He also picked up bronze in the 400 in Moscow, Russia (2006), Valencia, Spain (2008) and Istanbul, Turkey (2012).
His success also included the IAAF Outdoor World Championships. Also held every two years, Brown experienced great success in the 4×400 in his multiple trips. He earned the gold in that event in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada in 2001, bronze in Paris, France (2003) and silver in Helsinki, Finland (2005) and Osaka, Japan (2007).
Tough to beat anywhere, but especially in his native land, Brown delivered a pair of silver medal performances in 2014 and 2015. Those came at the IAAF Bahamas World Relays with times of 2:57.59 and 2:58.91, respectively.
Additionally, he currently holds the national record for the Bahamas in the 800-meters with a time of 1:49.57, had previously set the 4×400-meter relay mark on several occasions and owns a 400-meter personal best of 44.40. Brown has also held top five world rankings, hitting No. 2 in 2006, No. 3 in 2009 and No. 4 in 2005. Each of those times he was No. 1 in the Bahamas.
Prior to beginning what would be an illustrious international career, Brown starred at Division I Norfolk State University and in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) from 1998-2001. While there he was a two-time outdoor All-American in the 400-meters, earning those honors by virtue of third and fourth place finishes at the 2000 and 2001 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
He also set program records in the outdoor 400-meters (45.08) and sprint medley relay (3:19.71) and indoor marks in the 500-meters (1:03.25) and 4×400-meter relay (3:07.80). Brown also set the MEAC Outdoor Championship record in the 400 (45.60) and became the first NSU student-athlete inducted into that league’s Hall of Fame (2009). That same year he was inducted into NSU’s Hall of Fame.
Over the course of his career, Brown has earned a number of recognitions beyond what he has earned for himself on the track. These include being named the Bahamas’ National Team Captain in the 4×400-meters, Senior Male Athlete of the Year recipient 2005, 2006 and Senior Male Athlete of the Year and Athlete of the Year for Nassau, Bahamas (2012).
Additionally, he has been honored as an Exceptional Elite Athlete (Nassau, Bahamas – 2011), been a Bahamian Icon Award winner (2014) and was featured in the IAAF Feature Athlete: A Day in the Life Project series in 2014.
He has also received the Outstanding Performance Award on two different occasions, in 2008 for the Beijing Olympic Games and again in 2010. Rounding out those honors are the Tourism Award (Bahamas, 2016) and the Cacique Award (2017) presented by Cecil Rose Sports & Leisure (Bahamas).
Head track & field coach Mike Mead had to say, “I am honored to have Mr. Brown as my first full-time assistant coach. Our program is so fortunate to have someone with his track & field accomplishments and accolades, especially at our collegiate level of the sport. His ability to sustain his career over the span of 20 years is an astonishing feat and our student-athletes can benefit from his knowledge and personal experiences to make them better during their time at Clayton State.”