Focus switches to relays for Team T&T

An ill Semoy Hackett gave it her all at the Bird's Nest Stadium, here in Beijing, China, yesterday, but in the end did not have the strength to secure a lane in the IAAF World Championship women's 200 metres final.

For three-quarters of the second semi-final heat, Hackett was very competitive. However, the Trinidad and Tobago sprinter faded towards the end to finish fourth in 22.75 seconds—too slow to progress as a “fastest loser”.

“I executed good,” Hackett told the Express, “but I just wasn't able to finish as strong as I normally do. It was an okay run. Just wasn't feeling 100 per cent going into the race.

“Last night, I got ill,” she explained. “Something with my stomach and probably what I ate. The doctor said the oil in the food or something like that, but I'm physically okay. Just that my stomach is not good. During the night, I woke up at two o'clock and went to the physio for some medication. We went to the medical today, and they said my liver and everything is okay. It's probably something I ate.”

Dutchwoman Dafne Schippers topped heat two in 22.36 seconds while the other automatic championship race spot went to Jamaica's Sherone Simpson in 22.53. Like Hackett, third-placed Marie-Josee Ta Lou was too slow to progress, the Ivory Coast sprinter getting home in 22.56.

Reyare Thomas also exit­ed at the semi-final stage of the women's half-lap. The T&T sprinter clocked 23.03 seconds for seventh spot in heat one. Jamaican Elaine Thompson was first to the line in 22.13.

“I'm kind of mad I didn't come out with a personal best,” Thomas told the Express. “But all in all, it was a great race.”

Back in 2008, Thomas missed out on the Olympic Games here in Beijing. Seven years later, she finally made the long trek to the Chinese capital. Not only did Thomas run in an individual event at a major glo­bal meet for the very first time at the 2015 World Championships, she advanced to the penultimate round.

“This made up a little bit, but it still doesn't fill the void.”

Thomas added, however, that a medal in the women's 4x100m relay would probably do the trick. T&T will be in action at about midnight tonight (T&T time) in the opening round of the sprint relay.

At the time of writing, the line-up had not yet been determined. T&T manager Dexter Voisin told the Express that the elimination of both Hackett and Thomas in the 200m could have a bearing on the final composition of the team for round one. Since neither sprinter is in today's half-lap final, they will both get a full day's rest ahead of the relay heats. The 4x1 final takes place at 8.50 tomorrow morning (T&T time).

Women's 100m finalists Michelle-Lee Ahye and Kelly-Ann Baptiste are expected to lead the T&T 4x100m challenge. The squad also includes Hackett, IAAF World Youth Championship 100m silver medallist Khalifa St Fort, Thomas, and Kamaria Durant.

Quadruple Olympic medallist Ato Boldon is part of the Team T&T coaching staff and has been working closely with the relay women.

“It's a good experience,” said Thomas, “knowing that Ato came back to work with the women's 4x1. His knowledge and insight into the relay was really helpful to all of us.”

Baptiste told the Express she is confident T&T will do well in the women's sprint relay.

“The key is really stick passing. You could have all the foot speed you want, but if you don't have the sticks together, then it doesn't really matter. So for us, it's all about getting the stick around the track safely and good, and I think the outcome that we want is going to happen.”

T&T will also be represented in the men's 4x400m heats, scheduled to start at 10.40 tonight (T&T time).

Voisin said 19-year-old 400m finalist Machel Cedenio will be res­ted in the qualifying round. Renny Quow is expected to perform leadoff duties, with Lalonde Gordon on second leg. Deon Lendore will run the third leg, handing the baton to anchorman Jarrin Solomon.

Quow, who bowed out in the semis in the individual 400m event, believes T&T can get to the very top of the podium in the men's 4x4.

“We have the strongest team in the world,” the 2009 World Championship 400m bronze medallist declared, “so, yeah, we can pull it off.”