TT Olympian Alvin Daniel thinks the national men's 4x400-metre team will be in contention for a medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The trio of Machel Cedenio, Deon Lendore and Dwight St Hillaire did not get past the semifinal stage of the men's 400m event, on Monday morning (TT time).
TT were the only country to have three athletes in the semifinals of the 400m individual event so the national men’s 4x400m relay team should be competitive. USA, Bahamas and Jamaica had two representatives each in the semifinals.
Daniel, who represented TT at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, is optimistic about TT’s chances in the relay because three or four athletes have the ability to run 45 seconds.
“We could have a well-balanced team compared to some other countries,” Daniel said. “Our possibility is greater in terms of our chances getting a medal in the 4x400m and those guys will have a couple days rest which make it even better again. We should do good. They just have to be focused, throw the 400m behind their back and concentrate now on the relay.”
The men’s 4x400m heats will begin on Friday at 7.25 am (TT time) which will be followed by the final on Saturday at 8.50 am (TT time).
Daniel said, in a relay, athletes tend to give an extra effort because it is a team event. TT won gold at the IAAF World Relays in 2019 in Japan, a quartet which included Lendore, Cedenio, Asa Guevara and Jereem Richards. Guevara and Richards are part of the relay team in Tokyo, along with St Hillaire and Che Lara.
In semifinal one of the men’s 400m on Monday, Lendore was out the blocks quickly and took the lead after 100m. However with 150m left he started to fade as the runners on the inside lanes including Grenadian Kirani James took charge of the race.
Lendore, running in lane seven, finished fourth in 44.93 seconds which saw him just miss out on a spot in the final. Eight runners earned spots in the final, but Lendore was ninth overall. Jamaican Christopher Taylor snatched the eighth and final spot after finishing second in semifinal two in 44.92.
James, the winner of the event at the 2012 London Olympics, won semifinal one in a season’s best of 43.88.
The top two in each of the three semifinals advanced automatically along with the next two fastest times.
In semifinal two, running in lane nine, Cedenio also could not maintain his speed to the end.
Before heading into the home stretch he also started to fall behind and could only muster a sixth place finish in 45.86 in the race which included seven athletes. American Michael Cherry won semifinal two in 44.44.
St Hillaire, starting in lane two in semifinal three, seemed out of contention at the halfway stage. He made a late surge in the final 50m, but it was too late to make up the ground to qualify for the final.
St Hillaire was seventh in 45.58 in the eight-man semifinal. Steven Gardiner of Bahamas won semifinal three in 44.14 in a season’s best time.
Daniel said the TT quartermilers did not spend enough time competing prior to the Olympics which may have affected their performance.
“Those guys are short in terms of races," said Daniel. "They would not have had enough races under their belt with the pandemic taking place…a lot of times people would feel you making excuses for the athletes, but we are a society that don’t really listen and we also quick to (criticise) our own.”