Tonya Nero will be T&T’s lone representative at the 20th IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Kavarna, Bulgaria on October 6.
The 23-year-old distance runner will leave for Bulgaria tomorrow and will be aiming to improve her national half-marathon mark of 1:15:42.  “My goal is to run about 1:13. I feel I can do it.  I am hoping the weather conditions will be favourable and I anticipate the competition will be great.” The multiple national record holder told the Trinidad Guardian that she has been preparing for the race. “Training has been good. I spent some time (from the end of July to September 14) working out with my former university team-mates at Wichita State (in Kansas, USA). I will be doing some easy runs (6-8 miles) before I leave on Wednesday.”  Nero indicated that since her return to Trinidad earlier this year she has been coached by NAAA Secretary Allan Baboolal and Trustee Paul Voisin. Baboolal will accompany her to Bulgaria as her coach/manager. Nero will be aiming to improve on the 54th placing by Shermin Lasaldo at the 2007 edition in Udine, Italy.

Baboolal said Nero was the lone athlete selected. “Tonya was the only athlete close to international standard.” Top local runners Richard Jones and Curtis Cox were not considered.  Jones  represented Trinidad and Tobago at three championships in 2005 (Edmonton, Canada), 2007 (Udine, Italy)  and 2008 (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) with his best performance in Rio (71st -1:13.01). Nero, a former student of ASJA Girls College, is a recipient of the Ministry of Sports’ Elite Funding Assistance Programme since May and holds national records in women’s outdoor 5,000m, 10,000m half marathon and marathon and the indoor 3,000m and 5,000m events. The Maracas-resident was  seventh in the women’s 10,000m finals at the 2011 NCAA Division One Outdoor Championships and 13th in the 5,000m finals at the 2011 NCAA Indoor Championships. In March earlier this year Nero created history when she became the first local woman to win an individual medal at the North American, Central American and Caribbean Cross Country Championships taking second place in the senior women’s race at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain. She later missed out qualifying for the London Olympics in the women’s marathon when she ran 2:43:45 (a national record) in Rotterdam in April, missing the Olympic B mark of 2:43.00.

-Clayton Clarke