Keston Bledman produced a fine run in the opening round of the men’s 100 metres dash at the 14th IAAF World Championships, here in Moscow, Russia, yesterday.
Running in lane four in the third of seven round one heats, Bledman got to the line in 10.02 seconds—his fastest clocking this season—to secure second spot, behind 2004 Olympic champion Justin Gatlin. Drawn way out in lane nine, the American stopped the clock at 9.99.
“You can’t ask for a better performance,” a satisfied Bledman told the Sunday Express. “Season’s best! Gatlin is a great athlete. I didn’t even see him on the outside, because I was so focusing on my lane.
“My coach told me just go ahead and execute my race—come in the top three, try to win but don’t press too much on the gas because there’s two more rounds. I’m trying to go nine (seconds), get to that final and bring home a medal for Trinidad and Tobago. I don’t care what colour it is.”
Gatlin, Bledman and third-placed Dwain Chambers (10.14), of Great Britain, advanced automatically to the semis.
At 11.21 this morning (T&T time), Bledman will square off against Jamaica’s six-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt in the third and final semi-final heat. American Mike Rodgers, the fastest qualifier yesterday with a 9.98 run in heat six, has also been drawn in the third semi.
The top two in each heat will qualify automatically for the 1.50 p.m. final.
Another T&T sprinter, Richard “Torpedo” Thompson, will do battle in the opening semi-final. The 2008 Olympic silver medallist takes on Gatlin, Jamaican Nesta Carter and France’s Jimmy Vicaut.
Thompson struggled in the first half of his round one heat, yesterday, but produced a strong finish to secure second spot in 10.14 seconds. China’s Peimeng Zhang clocked 10.04—a new national record—to top the field, while the third automatic qualifying berth up for grabs in heat four went to St Kitts and Nevis sprinter Jason Rogers (10.19).
“It wasn’t bad,” Thompson told the Sunday Express, “but a lot could be improved, especially the first part of the race. I just felt I got out of the blocks slow. I’m not sure that my reaction was slow, but the actual drive phase could have been way better.
“I was very pleased with my last part of the race. If I could correct the first part and run the second part like I did today, I think I have a great chance of showing much more improvement and getting into the final.”
Thompson said it was difficult to gauge what he needs to do in the semis in order to earn a lane in the championship race.
“The only heat that I saw was the one right before me with Keston. He looked great. Gatlin looked good as well. I would have to see what everyone else has done, but usually if you run 10-flat you’re in the final. And I think these legs can go that (fast).
“It hasn’t been the greatest year for me,” the T&T track star continued, “but I love these moments, I love Championships, and I love to show up at them. I’m definitely not counting out my chances of getting in there tomorrow (today). I’m very confident.”
The third T&T sprinter in the men’s 100m, Rondel Sorrillo, exited the event after finishing fifth in heat seven in 10.25 seconds. Bolt topped that heat in 10.07.
In the final stages of the race, Sorrillo looked to his right, and lost ground. That glance may well have been the difference between a semi-final berth and elimination.
“I felt my hips drop,” a disappointed Sorrillo told the Sunday Express. “I just needed to know what position I was in to go through to the next round. I guess that cost me.”
Mikel Thomas will be the first T&T athlete on show today, at the Luzhniki Stadium. At 1.40 a.m., Thomas will run in the opening men’s 110m hurdles first round heat. Nine minutes later, Wayne Davis II will face the starter in heat two.
At 2.45 a.m., Cleopatra Borel throws in the women’s shot put qualifying competition.
Deon Lendore will be on the track at 3.21 a.m., running in the third of five men’s 400m first round heats. Jarrin Solomon has been drawn in heat five, which is scheduled for 3.37.
And with Kelly-Ann Baptiste voluntarily withdrawing from the Championships, after testing positive for a banned substance, Michelle-Lee Ahye will be T&T’s lone representative in the women’s 100m dash. Ahye will compete in heat four at 4.16 a.m.