Sprinters race for glory
By JOEL BAILEY Friday, August 10 2012
TRINIDAD AND Tobago advanced to a pair of Olympic relay finals, the men’s 4x400-metre and women’s 4x100-metre, which run off today in London.
At the Olympic Stadium yesterday, Trinidad and Tobago men’s 4x400-metre team edged Great Britain to win heat one of their first round race, though both teams clocked three minutes 0.38 seconds.
Lalonde Gordon, the 400 metres bronze medallist, ran a steady first leg but American-born Jarrin Solomon put the TT team ahead with a wonderful second leg. However, Ade Alleyne-Forte faltered badly in the third leg and was overtaken by the British and Cuban teams.
Trinidad and Tobago seemed destined for third place (the top three finishers automatically advance to the final), but Deon Lendore showed a late surge to fly past his Cuban rival, and was at full stretch to edge his British opponent for the win, in a new national record.
Cuba was third, with Belgium , Poland and Germany trailing.
South Africa, featuring the “blade runner” Oscar Pistorious, and Kenya did not finish the race, as Ofentse Mogawane collided with Kenya’s Vincent Kiilu.
But, on appeal, the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) ruled that Mogawane was blocked and the South Africans were reinstated to the final, while the Kenyans were disqualified.
Jamaica, in heat two, did not finish as Germaine Gonzales pulled up with a hamstring injury while, in the same heat, Venezuela successfully appealed their earlier disqualification for allegedly impeding the Australian team during a takeover.
Bahamas and the United States shared heat two with times of 2:58.87 each, followed by Russia, Venezuela, Australia and Japan, while Jamaica did not finish and the Dominican Republic was disqualified.
The final will run off at 4.20 pm today.
Trinidad and Tobago also progressed to the final of the women’s 4x100-metre relay, after finishing second in heat one, of the first round, in a national record time of 42.31 seconds.
The foursome of Michelle-Lee Ahye, Kelly-Ann Baptiste, Kai Selvon and Semoy Hackett (who later suffered a suspected asthma attack late yesterday) were unable to withstand the challenge of the United States, who clocked the fourth fastest time in history — 41.64 seconds. Netherlands, the third automatic qualifier, was timed in 42.45. In heat two, Ukraine prevailed in 42.36 seconds, ahead of Jamaica (42.37), Germany (42.69), Poland (43.07), Colombia (43.21), Russia (43.24) and Belarus (43.90), while France was disqualified.
In today’s final, scheduled for 3.40 pm, Trinidad and Tobago has been drawn in lane four.
The last of the three TT relay teams, the men’s 4x100-metre, will be in action today in the first round, from 2.45 pm, for a spot in tomorrow’s final.
Trinidad and Tobago (with any four of Richard Thompson, Keston Bledman, Rondel Sorrillo, Marc Burns, Emmanuel Callender and Jamol James) will be in lane four, in heat two.
Former national sprinter Alvin Daniel spoke at length about the men’s 4x400-metre team yesterday.
The 1992 Barcelona Olympics competitor, in the men’s 4x400-metre relay, said, “We have a very good team there. It’s a young team and they’re doing well. But we need to work a little strategy as how our third leg is slightly weak and maybe a little inexperienced.
“I saw he (Alleyne-Forte) allowed them to pass him on the back straight and then he tried to run them down, which don’t make sense at all. It’s a relay and, that stage of the race, you’re done running ‘scratch’ already, so you need to hold the inside as much as possible.
“Anybody who has to try and pass will either pass you on the straight or they try and pass you around (the bend) and they can do that around the bend, that means they will burn up a lot of energy. I feel we should try considering one of our sprinters who could give us an ‘alright’ 400 leg. Once we have the lead we could hold.”
Daniel continued, “We have Bahamas to contend with, you have the US, which isn’t that strong, they could be beaten, and Britain. Right now, I see (us) in the top three. It just depends on which one of the medals we want badly. If we set the team right, we can get a medal.”
With Renny Quow out of the Games with a hamstring injury, only 16-year-old Machel Cedenio is left in the reserves, but Daniel is calling for the inclusion of either Rondel Sorrillo or Emmanuel Callender (both 4x100-metre participants) in place of Alleyne-Forte for the third leg.
“They (TT coaches) should have looked at that. With Quow being out, they should have looked at getting in one of the sprinters,” Daniel pointed out. “Sorrillo (could) ran a good 4x400 leg, as well as Callender. That’s about the two that I see there (and) we could probably use one of them. You need a sprinter who can get around that bend as quick as possible, especially on the second leg.
“The other guys are real good. (Solomon) ran a beautiful leg, he (ran) real good. This is one of our best chances to get a medal in the 4x400-metre relay but it depends on how they set the team and what they do.”
Looking at the women’s relay squad, Daniel noted, “We have a strong women 4x100 team but I hope that the authorities will see that this is a very young team and we don’t wait for four years to see what they will do individually.
“I think we need to keep this team together as well as the others that’s coming along. We also need to start an early programme with the youths if we’re looking for future Olympics.
“We are losing out right now because not too many of the youths, from a very early age, are involved in programmes like this. So we’re more discovering them when they get big and then trying to see what they will do.
“I think that if we get together early, put the youths together and have (a) proper structure, we wouldn’t be just turning out finalists again, we’ll be turning out champions,” he ended.