Sunday, February 25, 2018


Record-breaking T&T women fourth, men obstructed


CLOSE CALL: USA's Carmelita Jeter, centre, crosses the finish line to win the Women's 4x100-metre Relay final ahead of France's Veronique Mang, left, and Trinidad and Tobago's Michelle-Lee Ahye, right, at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea, yesterday. The T&T quartet finished fourth behind the USA, Jamaica and Ukraine. —Photo: AP

(BI) Feedloader User

"I'm really disappointed right now, but everything happens for a reason. I saw where we could have definitely gotten a medal, but I guess it wasn't meant to be."

Kelly-Ann Baptiste had good reason to be confident of Trinidad and Tobago's chances of securing precious metal in the women's 4x100 metres relay. In the qualifying round, Kai Selvon, Baptiste, Semoy Hackett and Michelle-Lee Ahye had combined for a 42.50 seconds national record run, a blistering back straight from Baptiste setting the stage for victory in heat two.

T&T advanced to the final as the third fastest qualifier, behind heat three winners United States (41.94) and heat one winners Jamaica (42.23).

However, in the championship race, the second exchange, from Baptiste to Hackett, was not smooth, and T&T lost ground. Hackett was superb on the third leg, and Ahye battled tenaciously coming home, but the 19-year-old was unable to hold off Ukraine anchor Hrystyna Stuy, and T&T were forced to settle for fourth spot in 42.58 seconds.

"I think I ran up on her (Hackett) a little bit," Baptiste told the Express, "and it took me a lot of time to give her the stick. I guess it slowed down at that point.

"I'm still proud of them," the 100m bronze medallist continued. "We ran two really fast times, and that's something to be grateful and thankful for."

United States, anchored by 100m champion Carmelita Jeter, struck gold in 41.56 seconds, while silver went to the Jamaican quartet of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Kerron Stewart, Sherone Simpson and 200m winner Veronica Campbell-Brown in 41.70—a new national record. Ukraine (42.51) earned bronze.

Hackett expects T&T to be an improved team in 2012.

"For next time, we'll bond more, train harder. Come Olympics, we'll do better."

In the men's sprint relay final, the T&T quartet--Keston Bledman, Marc Burns, Aaron Armstrong and Olympic 100m silver medallist Richard "Torpedo" Thompson--looked to be on course to challenge for a medal, but were denied the opportunity by American third leg runner Darvis Patton.

Patton collided with Great Britain anchor, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, and fell into T&T's lane, delaying the exchange between Armstrong and Thompson.

The "Torpedo" tried to run back on the field, but the gap was too wide and T&T finished sixth in 39.01 seconds.

"It was there for us to take," said Burns, "but the mishap cost us the silver medal."

A bitterly disappointed Armstrong agreed with his teammate.

"Going into the final, our goal was to win it. We were definitely in it for the medals. Right now, I'm just shocked…can't believe it happened."

Neither United States nor Britain finished the race—the race for silver. The run for gold was a one-team contest, Jamaica dominating the field with the only world record of the Championships, Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, 100m winner Yohan Blake and two-time 200m gold medallist Usain Bolt combining for a 37.04 seconds clocking.

Blake performed third leg duties.

"You know I'm a beast. I just take it out on the corner, catch Usain, give him the baton, and he deal with the rest."

Anchorman Bolt dug deep, ensuring that his team improved on the 37.10 global standard set by Jamaica in the 2008 Olympic final.

"After I saw the guys' first three legs, I knew they were running really hard, they really put their all into it, so I decided why not give my all also. I went out there and I ran hard, kept on looking at the clock and I kept on saying 'I can do this, I can do this'."

The Jamaicans earned a US$100,000 bonus for establishing the new world record.

With T&T out of contention, and United States and Great Britain knocked out of the race altogether, France claimed silver in 38.20 seconds.

Inspired by 100m bronze medallist Kim Collins, St Kitts & Nevis clocked 38.49 seconds to secure a surprise bronze.

"I pretty much told the guys," said Collins, "that I have a record for making finals and medalling, so tonight is no exception. They went out and made the whole of St Kitts & Nevis proud."

In the qualifying round, T&T were impressive winners of heat two, stopping the clock at 37.91 seconds to finish ahead of Bolt-less Jamaica (38.07), the 25-year-old sensation resting his legs for the championship race. St Kitts & Nevis were third in 38.47, a new national record, Collins and company advancing via the "fastest loser" route.

T&T were second fastest overall, behind heat one winners United States (37.79). Great Britain (38.29) topped heat three.

The women's 100m bronze earned by Baptiste was T&T's lone podium finish at the Championships. T&T were joint-33rd on the medal table, with Bahamas, Belgium, Iran, Italy, Latvia, Slovenia, Spain and Zimbabwe.

United States topped the table, with 12 gold medals, eight silver and five bronze. Russia (nine gold, four silver, six bronze) and Kenya (seven gold, six silver, four bronze) finished second and third, respectively.

Jamaica were fourth overall and first among Caribbean countries, with four gold medals, four silver and a single bronze.

Thanks to Kirani James' men's 400m gold, Grenada finished joint-11th on the table, with Botswana, Brazil, Japan, New Zealand and Poland.

Cuba earned one silver medal and three bronze medals, for joint-18th with France. Puerto Rico secured one silver medal to finish joint-21st with Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Norway, Sudan and Tunisia.

And St Kitts & Nevis, with their two bronze medals, finished joint-31st with Colombia.