NATIONAL junior track and field athlete Khalifa St Fort grabbed bronze in the girls 100-metre event when the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) World Under-20 Championships continued at the Zawisza Stadium in Bydgoszcz, Poland, yesterday.
St Fort, coached by former Trinidad and Tobago sprint legend Ato Boldon, ran a shade under her personal best time of 11.16 seconds clocking 11.18 to claim third place. American Candace Hill won gold in a Championship record time of 11.07 while Ewa Swoboda snatched silver in 11.12 breaking the Polish U-20 record in the process.
It was the second time Hill got the better of St Fort at a World Youth Meet. Last year at the IAAF World U-18 Championships in Colombia, Hill won gold in the 100m in 11.08 ahead of St Fort who copped silver in 11.19. St Fort previously won gold in the 100m at the 2015 Pan American Games and at the 2016 Carifta Games. She was also part of the women’s 4x100m team which won bronze at the 2015 World Championships in China.
Earlier in the semifinals, St Fort was second in heat two in 11.22 finishing behind Hill who won in 11.12.
In heat one TT athlete Jenea Spinks failed to advance to the final after finishing seventh in heat one in 11.81. The first two in each of the three heats plus the next two fastest athletes advanced to the final. After the final an excited St Fort said, “I thought I had a great start and I felt everything was great, I am so blessed to be able to compete out here injury free and I had a wonderful time competing with these wonderful athletes.” She added, “I want to thank you guys for following my journey giving me love and support.
TT I love you, Mummy and Dad I love you.” Unfortunately St Fort did not have a TT flag to celebrate her performance. On twitter Boldon wrote, “19 years after I had no post-race flag after TNT’s first world title, I have to explain to @ khalifastfort why she had none tonight.” President of the National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA’s) Ephraim Serrette was pleased with St Fort’s performance.
He said, “It is always a good thing to be on the podium.
We had Akanni (Hislop) this morning (yesterday) doing a personal best in the preliminary round of the 200 and a bronze medal this evening, not bad.
“When you look at Khalifa’s performance over the last year or so from World Youth silver, a bronze medal in the relay at the World Championships last year and now a bronze at the World U-20. It augurs well for her future.” St Fort will be part of the women’s 4x100m relay team in Rio and Serrette is hoping she will continue this rich run of form. “She would have done just outside her personal best which is 11.16. To keep that form going into Rio as part of the women’s relay team will do well for them.” Serrette, who praised Boldon for the tremendous work he has been doing with St Fort, said a strong performance will add to the 40th anniversary celebrations of Hasely Crawford’s 100m gold medal run at the 1976 Olympic Games.
“Everybody has to go out and do well. The 40th anniversary would be a good celebration for Mr. Crawford knowing that back then he would have done that and we still continue to produce athletes to perform on that world stage.” Carifta boys U-20 200m champion Akanni Hislop did not finish heat three of the boys 200m semifinals due to injury. Earlier in the heats Hislop ran a personal best clocking 20.87 to finish third in heat three.
Jeminise Parris will be first in action on day four today when she competes in the girls 100m hurdles followed by St Fort in the girls 200m heats.
The girls 4x100m relay team of St Fort, Spinks, Sarah Wollaston, Akeera Esdelle and Parris will also compete today.