T&T women's 4x100m relay team showed its quality on the world stage with a sparkling national record run of 42.50 in winning the second heat in the sprint relay event on the last day of the 13th IAAF World Track and Field Championships in South Korea. The quartet, headed by 100m bronze medallist Kelly-Ann Baptiste, along with Semoy Hackett and teenagers Kai Selvon and Michelle Lee Ahye ran with the cheers of the Korean fans who packed the Daegu Stadium and erased the old mark of 43.22 at the last World Championships in Berlin, Germany, two years ago.
Baptiste and Hackett were part of that team along with Reyare Thomas and Ayanna Hutchinson. Starting in lane two Selvon ran a steady lead off leg and handed off to Baptiste, who the opened up a gap on Poland and Great Britain on the outside. Hackett extended the lead on the bend and gave young Lee-Ahye a comfortable margin which she maintained to the end. Ukraine was second (42.63) with Russia in third (42.78) as both qualified for the finals. The winning time was the third quickest of the heats behind the USA, which topped heat three in a world leading clocking of 41.94, and the Jamaicans, who took heat one in 42.23.
Speaking after the record run, Baptiste said she and her team-mates were confident of advancing to the medal round. "We just believed we are on a good part going into the finals. We hope to run another national record. We think if we do that we would get another medal. Our focus was to get the stick safely around the track and you never know what can happen." In the finals, two hours and five minutes later the quartet, running in the same order, was edged out of a medal, finishing fourth. The foursome was a shade slower than the heats run clocking 43.25 seconds behind the powerhouses USA (41.57-world leading) and Jamaica (41.70-national record) and Ukraine (43.51).
Hackett said the baton passing could have been smoother in the final. "The chemistry in the heat was great. In the finals was great also but we did not get the stick around as fast and smooth as we could have. But that is okay because next year we will come again."
Men's team impeded...settled for sixth.
T&T's men sprint relay squad were also in impressive form in the heats beating the champions Jamaica to take the second heat in their second best ever time of 37.91. Jamaica, without Usain Bolt were second in 38.07. The team of Keston Bledman, Marc Burns, Aaron Armstrong and Richard Thompson clocked the second quickest time in the preliminaries behind the USA, which ran away with heat one in 37.79.
Thompson was pleased with the team's baton passing. "So far the exchanges seem to be good. We need to carry it over to the finals. Maybe have a little cleaner exchanges. It could have been cleaner between Marc and Keston. But we got the stick around. That is the most important thing." In the race for the medals two hours later drama unfolded. The local sprinters lost any chance of medal when Armstrong was impeded as he was about to make the third and final hand over to Thompson. The 2010 Commonwealth bronze medallist had to swerve away from American sprinter Darvis Patton who fell.
Armstrong eventually made the exchange but it was too late to gain a medal.
Thompson crossed the line in sixth (39.01) as Bolt anchored Jamaican to victory in a world record of 37.04. France was second (38.20) with Caribbean minnows St Kitts/Nevis taking a surprise in bronze (38.45). Thompson was visably upset and did not comment while Armstrong was said to be stunned at the outcome. "Right now I am in shock. I can't believe it happened. My exchange from Marc was okay but it could have been better. We kind of stretched it a little bit. When that happened it just threw off our rhythm. Going into finals our goal was to win it. It is something that I can't explain what happened."