MICHELLE-LEE Ahye produced a solid run in her very first individual Olympic final at the Joao Havelange Olympic Stadium, here in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, last night.
The Trinidad and Tobago track star finished sixth in the women's 100 metres championship race in 10.92 seconds.
Jamaica's Elaine Thompson dominated the field, bolting to gold in 10.71.
American Tori Bowie earned silver in 10.83, while bronze went to two-time Olympic century champion Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the “Pocket Rocket” getting to the line in 10.86.
Bidding to become T&T's first-ever female Olympic medallist, Ahye looked to be a contender, but faltered in the latter stages of the race, and had to settle for a minor placing.
“I'm really satisfied,” Ahye told the Sunday Express last night. “I'm not mad, I'm not sad. I went out there, I did my best. I'm proud of myself. For the last 20, I broke my form, but it's all good.
“Next is the 200,” the 24-year-old sprinter continued. “Let's see how that goes. The competition is tough, so I have to go and bring my 'A' game, like I did today.”
Ahye clocked a season's best 10.90 seconds to finish second in last night's opening semifinal heat.
Ahye had enjoyed a very comfortable run in the first round on Friday night, cruising to victory in heat six in 11 seconds flat.
Semoy Hackett finished third in her first round heat in 11.35, advancing to the semis via the “fastest loser” route.
But running in the third semi last night, she could only manage a fifth–place finish in 11.20, and bowed out of the event.
The third T&T sprinter, four-time Olympian Kelly-Ann Baptiste was eliminated on Friday, finishing fourth in heat five in 11.42 seconds.
Machel Cedenio cruised into the men's 400m final, the T&T quartermiler topping last night's second semi in 44.39 seconds to advance third fastest.
The championship race takes place at nine o'clock tonight (TT time).
Cedenio pushed for victory
Challenged only by South African world champion Wayde van Niekerk in his semifinal heat, Cedenio pushed for the victory.
“It was a good race,” he said, afterwards. “I went out with the intention to win, to get a good lane in the final. I'm satisfied.”
Van Niekerk finished second in 44.45 seconds.
In the opening semifinal, T&T's Lalonde Gordon finished eighth and last in 45.13. Grenada's reigning Olympic champion Kirani James won in 44.02, ahead of American LaShawn Merritt (44.21).
In Friday's opening round, Cedenio won heat one in 44.98 seconds, while Gordon topped heat four in 45.24. The other T&T quartermiler, Deon Lendore was eliminated after finishing sixth in heat five in 46.15.
Keston Bledman, Rondel Sorrillo and Richard “Torpedo” Thompson all exited in the opening round of the men's 100m dash.
Running in heat five, Bledman stumbled near the end of the race.
“My spikes jammed in the ground,” the 28-year-old sprinter explained.
The stumble broke Bledman's momentum, and he finished fifth in 10.20 seconds. Antiguan Cejhae Greene also ran 10.20, but had the edge in the photo finish and was awarded fourth spot and the eighth and last “fastest loser” berth on offer in the first round, Bledman missing out by thousandths of a second.
With 24 progressing to today's semis, Bledman was 25th. Rondel Sorrillo, third in heat two in 10.23 seconds, was 29th overall.
And Richard “Torpedo” Thompson clocked 10.29 seconds to finish sixth in heat seven and 40th overall.
Sorrillo got a great start, but was not as strong at the end of the race.
“Being in lane one by yourself, it's harder to run fast, but it was a pretty good run. I didn't feel like I eased up. I wasn't sure where I was, and was scared to look over. I was pretty much trying to stay in the zone and in the moment. If I had looked I probably would have been able to gauge better and would have leaned.”
Running alongside Usain Bolt in heat seven, Thompson looked a shadow of the sprinter who claimed silver behind the Jamaican sprint legend at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
“I gave a disappointing performance,” Thompson told the Sunday Express. “It's been a very hard season for me. To be honest, early on this year I had a lot of injuries, but by Senior Champs I had found my legs. After Senior Champs, there's maybe a two-week period that I had a hamstring injury and was unable to do any work on the track for about two weeks.
Not an excuse
“But I don't want to make that an excuse,” the three-time Olympic silver medallist continued, “because in reality, leading up to the Games I had some really good sessions. The times that I hit in some of the runs was an indicator that I was ready to come here and run well. Ato (Boldon) was excited about what he was seeing. I was excited about what I was seeing and feeling. Unfortunately, it didn't come together today.”
American Justin Gatlin (10.01), Ivory Coast sprinter Ben Youssef Meite (10.03), Canadian Andre de Grasse (10.04) and Bolt (10.07) were the fastest men on show in round one.
The semifinals and final will be contested tonight.
Thompson said the elimination of all three T&T sprinters could turn out to be a blessing in disguise, ahead of the sprint relay.
“Maybe this is God saving our legs for the 4x1 to possibly create history.”