READY TO RUMBLE: Janeil Bellille, after her “shake-out” at the Scotstoun Stadium in Glasgow, Scotland, yesterday. Photo: KWAME LAURENCE

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Bellille planning ‘something great’

Don’t count out St Louis, says table tennis manager

By Kwame Laurence in Glasgow

 Janeil Bellille arrived yesterday at the Commonwealth Games Village here in Glasgow, Scotland, and is eagerly anticipating her bid for precious metal in the women’s 400 metres hurdles.

Last month, at the NGC/Sagicor National Open Track & Field Championships, Bellille became Trinidad and Tobago’s fastest-ever female quartermiler, striking gold in the 400m flat event in a national record time of 51.83 seconds. The time bettered a 16-year-old T&T standard, Beverly Pierre’s 51.96 clocking having stayed in the books since 1998.

Bellille was at the Scotstoun Stadium yesterday with her 4x400m teammates Shawna Fermin, Romona Modeste and Domonique Williams, as well as sprinter Reyare Thomas.

“I just did a shake-out,” Bellille told the Express.

Today, she will train at Hampden Park—the track and field venue for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Bellille said she is pleased with her preparations, ahead of the meet.

“It has really been going well. I’m actually feeling quite confident in my training, and I’m looking forward to competing. I just want to have a good race. Based on my training I’m actually in good shape right now, so once everything gets together on the race-day I know something great will happen.”

Bellille said her 51.83 T&T record in the 400m is an indicator that her 55.41 400m hurdles PR (personal record) is in danger.

“After that (51.83), my training has really intensified, so I’m looking forward to the hurdles and everything else.”

Bellille’s 55.41 one-lap hurdles PR was produced on May 30 this year at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) West Preliminary meet, in Arkansas, USA. Thanks to that run, the Texas A&M University student is 19th on the 2014 world performance list.

Of the 18 women ahead of Bellille on the global list, five are expected to compete here in Glasgow, including Jamaican world-leader Kaliese Spencer (53.41). The other Jamaican entrants, Janeive Russell (54.75) and Nikita Tracey (55.18) are eighth and 16th on the 2014 world list. Scottish hope Eilidh Child (54.39) is fourth, and South Africa’s Wenda Nel (54.82) is 10th.

Just a stone’s throw from the Scotstoun Stadium, T&T players Yuvraaj Dookram and Catherine Spicer practiced on one of the show courts at the Scotstoun Sports Campus—venue for the table tennis events at Commonwealth 2014.

The other members of the T&T team—France-based Dexter St Louis and Rheann Chung, Curtis Humphreys, Aaron Wilson, Aleena Edwards and Ashley Quashie, as well as coach Reeza Burke—are expected to arrive in Glasgow today.

The six players are well prepared for the Commonwealth Games, having just competed at the Pan American Sport Festival in Mexico City, Mexico. Chung was outstanding, getting to the women’s singles semi-finals to leave Mexico with bronze. St Louis reached the round of 16 in the men’s singles.

In the absence of Burke, team manager Collin Cudjoe has been in charge of training sessions here in Glasgow. Spicer, Dookram and Cudjoe arrived in Scotland last Tuesday.

“We have been training twice a day,” Cudjoe told the Express, at the end of yesterday’s session. “We had a hit with the Bajan national team. We’re going pretty good. Catherine looks pretty sharp, Yuvraaj looks sharp as well. And they’re very acclimatised to the conditions.

“I think we have put together a good team,” the manager continued, “a strong team. We have Dexter, we have Rheann who just achieved a bronze medal at the Pan Am Festival. We have Curtis who just returned from Sweden. We have Aaron, always training outside, a talented junior. We have Yuvraaj, we have Catherine. We have Aleena Edwards, very experienced.

“We’re not going to be a pushover for any team outside of the First World teams. Anything outside of the First World teams, we’re going to be very competitive.”

At the 2002 Commonwealth Games, in Manchester, St Louis won twice against England in the men’s team event, giving the home fans a big scare before the host nation eventually prevailed 3-2 against little-fancied T&T.

Though he is now 46, St Louis is still feared in Commonwealth circles.

“Dexter always gives his best,” said Cudjoe, “when he puts on the Trinidad and Tobago colours. Because of his style and because of his determination and dedication, he’s always a dangerous opponent for anybody. You don’t ever count out Dexter.”

The manager added that Chung’s standard of play is now comparable to players ranked in the top 150 in the world.

“I expect great performances from both Dexter and Rheann. The other players,” Cudjoe ended, “will trump and follow suit.”

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