Sprinter Khalifa St Fort is ready to claim the senior ranks as her own in 2018.

St Fort is eagerly anticipating her full senior debut now that her junior campaign has ended. She recently won her third consecutive Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) Junior Sportswoman of the Year award which she says was a bitter-sweet moment.

“It’s a great feeling. Knowing that this is my last Junior Sportswoman award, it’s one I’m going to hold very dearly because I am now saying goodbye to my years as a junior, and it’s now on to seniors.”

2017 was a difficult but yet memorable year for the 19-year-old; one where she was forced to overcome knee, hip and hamstring injuries before going on to complete the Under-20 Girls’ sprint double at the CARIFTA Games in Curacao – winning the 100 metres in 11.56 seconds, and the 200 metres in 23.99 seconds.

“It required a lot of perseverance. It was very hard. I had a lot of injuries and I didn’t really publicise it because you never want to make it seem like some kind of excuse for you not performing. I was injured from October to February but CARIFTA was something that I didn’t want to pull out of.

“So, I pushed and I was able to come out with the double. It wasn’t easy. That’s why everyone saw the tears, and the bawling, and the crying! The Lord got me through; also my family, my close friends, and my coach. It was definitely a year of tears and happiness.”

Nothing made her happier than winning the 200m at CARIFTA after the disrupted build-up that left her short of confidence and preparation. Now in 2018, expect to see lots more of St Fort over the longer sprint distance.

“This year will be a year full of 200s! Coach is actually talking about 200s before my 100s. I’m hoping for a big 200 PB [personal best]; definitely going under 23 seconds, finally, because it has been long overdue!”

It will be a potentially busy year for St Fort with the Commonwealth Games in Australia and Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games among the major events on her calendar. Many will be watching to see how well she transitions fully into the ‘big leagues’ but she has no plans of crumbling under the pressure.

“I am definitely just going to have a great time. Last year taught me that not every season is promised. So, this year I’m trying to remember to have fun. This is something I love to do; it’s not just a job for me. I’m just looking forward to being healthy, and to representing Trinidad and Tobago to the best of my ability some more – just running everywhere, and competing at my best!”

Written by Marsha Boyce