SIMPLEX Athletic Club Mauricia Prieto sprinter is chasing Commonwealth Wealth Games qualification in the women’s 100 and 200-metre events.
The 26-year-old, like most local track and field athletes, only made a competitive return to the domestic circuit in January following the lifting of covid19 restrictions for sport.
Since then, she has only competed at two major meets – Tobago Falcon Games and Republic Bank/NAAA Relay Festival – but remains focused on attaining the required Commonwealth standards to secure a coveted national team spot.
The Commonwealth Games get underway in Birmingham, United Kingdom from July 28 to August 8.
According to the National Association of Athletics Administrations website, the qualification standard for the women’s 100m is 11.44 seconds while the 200m is 23.18 seconds.
At the Falcon Games, Prieto won silver in 12.02s, trailing gold medallist Shaniqua Bascombe (11.96s) of Cougars. In the 200m, the Marabella-based athlete powered to gold in 23.88s.
The Relay Festival did not feature individual events but Prieto and her South/Central team earned triple-silver in the women’s 4x100m, 4x200m and mixed medley relay (1x1x2x400).
Prior to these events, Prieto took part in three of the four NAAA preparation meets, where she comfortably won both the 100m and 200m races at each leg.
Her best 100m time for this year is 11.82s and her best 200m time is 23.65s.
Having taken a year off in 2021 owing to the pandemic, Prieto is back and hunting precious qualification.
Her next shot at securing qualification will come at the National Track and Field Championships in late June.
“I do have my mind set on the Commonwealth Games and the World Championships in Oregon. I haven’t run either standard yet because I’m still trying to get into my full running form seeing that I took a year off track.
“I’m catching back my form and the turnovers are coming along pretty well. With the relays, I just ran, that helped me because we were not given a lot of meets so far,” she said.
Twelve months away from track did set her back a bit, but Prieto remains motivated, under head coach Gunness Persad, to keep pushing her body to the limit to achieve her personal objectives.
“I just need to continue to trust my training, react to the competition and go out there and do what I do best – compete and go straight down to the line. I will try my best to obtain the standards.
“If I make the time, it is super important. It will boost my confidence even more because I have been pushing my body really hard on my come back (to competition),” she added.
Prieto trains Monday through Friday for three hours at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella. She works alongside Persad and fellow female athletes Kamaria Durant and Under-20 sprinter Kylia Fortune.
“I take training very seriously and I sacrifice a lot for my craft. I don’t mind getting beat because it doesn’t affect my confidence. I put everything on the line. If I have to run with you, up under you, that’s what I’m going to do. I compete with myself.
“After training so hard, you want to get the results that you put in. I don’t go out there and play. It’s very important for me to make the national team so I’d know all my work did not go in vain,” she said.
On her recent triple-silver at the Relay Festival, Prieto was pleased with not only her performance but the hundreds of chanting spectators who brought life to Hasely Crawford Stadium and athletes during events.
This festival was the biggest NAAA meet held since the pandemic hit in March 2020.
The roaring crowd, she said, made a welcome difference to competing.
“After two years, we as athletes were happy to see so many spectators come out and support. It’s something that, when you hear supporters screaming and reacting to you running, it makes you run faster. It boosts your adrenaline to run faster.
“When I ran the second leg of the mixed medley, I was on the backstretch, and soon as I collected the baton and I heard the screaming and yelling, it pushed me straight down to the end.
“They are appreciating what you’re doing so you’re giving them back a show; they make you want to go even faster. It was a great experience being in that atmosphere once more,” she closed.