Tonya Nero will bid to return to the podium in the North America Central America and Caribbean (NACAC) Cross Country Championship women’s six-kilometre event, at the Mt Irvine Bay Golf Course, in Tobago, tomorrow (Saturday).
Tiny Tonya earned silver at the 2012 NACAC Championships, at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain, completing the 6K race in 20 minutes, 33 seconds. The top-three finish was a first for Trinidad and Tobago at the Championships, Nero becoming the country’s first-ever individual medallist.
At the 2013 edition of the NACAC Championships, in Mandeville, Jamaica, Nero got home in 22:52 to finish 11th in the women’s 6K. She is hoping to be back on the rostrum tomorrow.
“My goal,” Nero told the Express, “is to be in the top three. I don’t know how it will go. I started back training late last year to prepare for the World Half Marathon Championships, and while I have been working hard, it’s not matching up to the work I put in a couple years ago.”
Nero claimed her NACAC Championship silver in March, 2012, just a couple months after returning to T&T. She had spent more than four years in Kansas, USA, where she competed with distinction for Colby Community College and Wichita State University.
In addition to her individual silver in 2012, Nero helped T&T earn team silver in the women’s 6K. In Tobago, the 25-year-old athlete will combine with her cousin, Elia Nero, Jenelle Nedd and Dawnel Collymore in an effort to secure another top-three team finish for the country.
Nero said that while she wants to do well at the NACAC Championships, her main short-term goal is “to run as close to my personal best as possible” at the March 29 World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark. Nero’s best time in the 13.1-mile event is one hour, 15 minutes, 13 seconds.
The course at Mt Irvine is more hilly than the Queen’s Park Savannah course. As a result, Nero does not expect to come close to the 20:33 clocking she produced two years ago when she competes at the NACAC Championships tomorrow.
“I expect to run in the 22/23-minute range.”
T&T will be represented by six runners in the men’s 8K—Kendis Bullard, Jules La Rode, Kade Sobers, Mark London, Shervan Baboolal and George Smith. The hosts will also field teams in the junior men’s 6K and junior women’s 4K.
Athletes from Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, Mexico, Puerto Rico and United States are also expected to be on show at Mt Irvine tomorrow.
The first race is scheduled for 2 p.m.
Men’s 8K—Kendis Bullard, Jules La Rode, Kade Sobers, Mark London, Shervan Baboolal, George Smith
Women’s 6K—Tonya Nero, Jenelle Nedd, Dawnel Collymore, Elia Nero
Junior men’s 6K—Akeem Marshall, Ashton Gill, Jevon Joseph, Daniel Elie, Joshua James, Atiba Samuel
Juniors women’s 4K—Aaliyah Mitchell, Donicia Antoine, Mikayla Ottley, Thyla-Maries Scott, Sherese Crichlow
Manager—Dawn Washington, Coaches—Juleus Smart, Annalee Walcott