Never before has a female Trinidad and Tobago athlete earned precious metal on the biggest sporting stage. There’s a strong possibility four will achieve the feat in one race at the Olympic Stadium here in London, England, today.
At 3.40 p.m. (T&T time), the T&T quartet will do battle from lane four in the Olympic Games women’s 4×100 metres final. And they will go into the race confident, following a record-breaking run in the qualifying round yesterday.
Ahye, Baptiste, Selvon and Hackett combined for second spot in heat one in 42.31 seconds, taking nine-tenths of a second off the 43.21 T&T record the same quartet had established in Nassau, Bahamas, on June 16. United States won the heat in a very fast 41.64.
At the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, Baptiste was a member of the T&T 4x100m team that failed to get the baton round the track in the qualifying round. And four years later, the Plymouth, Tobago, sprinter was again on the T&T sprint relay quartet when history repeated itself at the Beijing Games.
After a storming run on the back straight yesterday, Baptiste ran into some difficulty in her efforts to pass the baton to Selvon. Thankfully, a hat-trick of disasters was averted.
“Me and Kai almost didn’t get that stick around the track,” Baptiste told the Express. “But thank God, we did not panic. With passes that weren’t that great and to be able to still run that fast, I think that’s a good sign.
“We just want to medal,” she continued. “If we were to walk away here with a medal of whatever colour, we’d be really happy. That’s our goal. We just want to stay focused, trust each other, trust that we get the stick around the track and come away with the medal.”
Ukraine emerged victorious in heat two, clocking 42.36 seconds to edge Jamaica (42.37) into second spot.
The Jamaicans, however, will be much stronger today. Both back-to-back Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and two-time 200m gold medallist Veronica Campbell-Brown are expected to join the team for the championship race.
And the Americans will be boosted by the inclusion of Carmelita Jeter and newly crowned 200m champion Allyson Felix.
Baptiste acknowledges that United States and Jamaica are the top contenders for the Olympic sprint relay title.
“We know that there are two teams out there running for the gold medal, and realistically speaking, everybody else behind is running for the bronze. As much as we want to win, and we’re going out there to win, we know that the bronze is our chance to grasp that medal,” Baptiste ended, “and we’re looking forward to it”.
Today’s T&T schedule (T&T time)
2.53 p.m. Trinidad & Tobago—men’s 4×100 metres, round 1, heat 2
3.40 p.m. Trinidad & Tobago—women’s 4×100 metres final
4.20 p.m. Trinidad & Tobago—men’s 4×400 metres final
See Team T&T in action, exclusively on TV6