Kelly-Ann Baptiste is hoping to become the first female athlete from Trinidad and Tobago to earn Olympic precious metal.
The 25-year-old track star will open her bid for a 100 metres medal this afternoon, at the Olympic Stadium, here in London, England. The first of seven heats is scheduled for 2.05 p.m. (T&T time). The draw, however, will not be made until the completion of the preliminary round, which will feature the slower women entered in the event.
Baptiste and her T&T teammates, Semoy Hackett and Michelle-Lee Ahye, are automatically through to the first round proper.
Baptiste already has a place in the history books, the Plymouth, Tobago lass bagging 100m bronze at the World Championships, in Daegu, Korea, last year, to become the first female T&T sprinter to earn a medal at a major senior global meet.
And Baptiste is only the second female athlete from this country to secure a top-three finish at that level, following in the footsteps of 2009 World Championship 400m hurdles bronze medallist Josanne Lucas.
Ayanna Alexander will be the first T&T track and field athlete to see action. She competes in the 5.25 a.m. (T&T time) women's triple jump qualifying competition. The 30-year-old athlete will jump in Group B, and needs to improve on her 14.15m national record to guarantee a berth in Sunday's final. The automatic mark is 14.40m.
Jehue Gordon has been drawn way out in lane nine in the fifth of six men's 400m hurdles first round heats. The heat five field also includes two-time Olympic champion Angelo Taylor (lane three), of the United States, South Africa's LJ Van Zyl (lane six) and Greek hurdler Periklis Iakovakis (lane eight).
The top three finishers in each heat will advance automatically to the semi-final round.
Taylor, Van Zyl and Iakovakis are all sub-48 one-lap hurdlers, while Gordon's personal best is 48.26 seconds, the time he produced in finishing fourth at the 2009 World Championships, in Berlin, Germany, as a 17-year-old.
However, of the eight men in the race, only Taylor and Gordon have dived under 49 seconds this season. Gordon's best 2012 clocking to date is 48.78 seconds, while Taylor's is 48.43.
For 20-year-old Gordon, facing the starter at the Olympics is a new experience.
Richard "Torpedo" Thompson, on the other hand, has been there, done that. At the 2008 Games, in Beijing, China, the T&T sprint star seized silver in the men's 100m final in 9.89 seconds, finishing second to Jamaica's Usain Bolt (9.69).
Thompson earned his second Olympic medal in the 4x100m relay, anchoring T&T to second spot, behind Jamaica.
In 2012, however, Thompson has had his challenges, battling to overcome an injury and some indifferent form on the circuit. Of the nine legal sub-10 runs he has produced in his career, only one has come this season—9.96 seconds in finishing second to Keston Bledman (9.86) at the National Open Championships.
"Being under the radar," Thompson told the Express, "is okay with me. It allows me to focus on the task at hand and not have to worry about outside distractions.
"Final preparations," he continued, "have been going well. All the hard work is behind me now. It's just a matter of staying sharp and getting sufficient rest, so I can perform at a high level. I feel really good. I'm just thankful to God to come into the meet confident about my health and lead-up preparations."
Tomorrow morning (T&T time), the 27-year-old athlete will open his bid for a second Olympic Games 100m medal.
"This is not going to be an easy task, but I have prepared my best and I think a medal is a realistic goal for me.
"The support from T&T has been overwhelming—the fans, other athletes, soca artistes and of course family and friends have truly extended their full support," Thompson ended. "That in itself is enough inspiration for me."
T&T cyclist Njisane Phillip will also be on show tomorrow morning. The 21-year-old Olympic debutant will do battle in the flying 200m—the qualifying event for the men's sprint.
"I don't want to be here," Phillip told the Express, "and say I'm just here for the experience. I actually want to do well. The aim is to get the gold medal, and just have fun doing it. There's definitely a possibility of medalling in the sprint event and the keirin event, but I know I can't make any mistakes."
Phillip is enjoying the Olympic experience.
"It feels great. Just being in the whole atmosphere is just a crazy feeling. It's not like Commonwealth or Pan Ams or CAC. It's a whole other level. You have the best of the best here. It's a great feeling."
Another Olympic debutant, sailor Andrew Lewis, will be back on the water today, following yesterday's rest day in the men's Laser class event.
Lewis is 42nd after six races, with a net score of 195.
At seven a.m. (T&T time), in Dorset, he will sail in race seven on the Weymouth Nothe course. And then, at 8.40, he will be on the Weymouth Harbour course, competing in race eight.