LOCAL long distance runners Samantha Shukla and Tonya Nero are eyeing a top ten finish on Saturday at the North American, Central American and Caribbean Cross Country Championships at the Queen's Park Savannah in Port of Spain.
Shukla and Nero will represent TT in the women's 10K event. Iley Bruce, Mathew Hagley, Sherwin Stapleton, Shirvan Baboolal, Anthony Phillip and Mark London will fly the national flag in the men's 10K event.
Eight other countries will compete against TT at the championships, including Bahamas, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Jamaica, Mexico, Puerto Rico and USA.
Yesterday the TT team, under the watch of coach Richard Jones, trained at the Queen's Park Savannah. Shukla and Nero, who have been dominating local women's distance running for a number of years, spoke about their expectations leading up to the event.
Shukla said, "I am feeling good and I am feeling more motivated after the workout that I just had. It was a very solid workout."
Asked what she will be happy with, Shukla said, "A strong performance – a top five, top ten – once I give a solid effort. Once I have a great race experience and I feel good about it, in the end I will be pleased."
Shukla said she wants to make amends for disappointing showings in the NACAC Championships in the past. She said, "I have never had a really strong race in this NACAC Championships and hopefully this year would be the best year that I have had. I am 27 years old now and I have really overcome some really challenging stuff, and even now going into this race there has been some obstacles especially mental ones and different things surrounding the team and I just want to use that to propel me forward and have a good race this weekend."
Nero, based overseas, is hoping to utilise her US training on Saturday. She said, "I have been training at Wichita State University with their distance group so I have been doing some distance training with them. I have done a couple track and field races so I am just looking forward to do my best and to represent. I am a little bit stronger than I was last year."
She added, "(I want) to try to score (high on Saturday) and at least make it in the top 10."