SEMOY HACKETT became the first Trinidad and Tobago athlete to book a spot in the women’s 200-metres final in an Olympic Games.

The 23-year-old atoned for her failure to make the women’s 100-metres final, last Saturday, with a third-place finish in the second of three semi-final heats in 22.55 seconds at the Olympic Stadium in London, England, yesterday, equalling the national record time over the women’s half-lap.

Hackett followed on the heels of fellow Tobagonian Kelly-Ann Baptiste, who became the first national sprinter to make an Olympic final of the women’s 100 metres.

Speaking from London yesterday, manager of the TT track and field contingent Dexter Voisin noted, “We have Semoy, who became the first TT athlete to make it to the women’s 200-metres final. The competition is tough, but we want to ensure we get as many finalists as possible.

“I don’t want to make any predictions but we’re just hoping for the best,” he added.

The other TT finalists thus far at the Games are Lalonde Gordon, who copped bronze in the men’s 400 metres race, Baptiste, Jehue Gordon (men’s 400 metres hurdles), Richard Thompson (men’s 100 metres) and swimmer George Bovell III (men’s 50 metres freestyle).

In the second heat of the women 200 metres semis, Allyson Felix of the United States (US) was victorious in 22.31 seconds while Murielle Ahoure of Ivory Coast was next in 22.49.

According to the event’s rules, only the top two finishers, in the three semi- final heats, automatically advanced to today’s final, which is carded for 4 pm. But Hackett, as well as France’s Myriam Soumare (22.56 seconds) qualified as the “fastest losers”.

Felix and Ahoure were always in the fray for the top two spots, but Hackett showed tremendous grit and determination, in the last 50 metres, to claim third place.

Hackett’s other rivals in the final will be Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica and Carmelita Jeter of the US (who took the top two spots in heat one in 22.32 and 22.39 seconds respectively); Sanya Richards- Ross of the US and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (who were the top two in heat three in 22.30 and 22.34 seconds respectively).

The other TT participant in the women’s 200 metres semi-final, Kai Selvon, placed fifth in heat three in 23.04 seconds. Trinidad and Tobago had mixed results in the men’s 110 metres hurdles’ first round yesterday morning, as 24-year-old Mikel Thomas was fourth in heat three in 13.74 seconds, with Orlando Ortega of Cuba victorious in 13.26.

Another fourth-place finisher in the heats was Wayne Davis III, a 20-year-old American-born of Trinidadian parentage entrant, who clocked 13.52 seconds in heat one. Jason Richardson of the US was the winner in 13.33 seconds.

But Davis’ time ensured he will progress to today’s semi-final phase, as one of the fastest losers, while Thomas’ Olympic debut ended as quickly as it began.

On his Twitter page yesterday, Thomas blogged, “thank you all for your love and support. I know I’m capable of more and, with your continued support, the limit is the sky.”

And Rondel Sorrillo was eliminated in the first round of the men’s 200 metres.

The 26-year-old could only muster a fifth place finish in the second heat, in 20.76 seconds.

The heat was won by Christophe Lemaitre of France in 20.34 seconds.

At the London Velopark, 21-year-old American-based cyclist Njisane Phillip took the seventh place in the men’s keirin.

He would later tweet, “all done! Thanks to all my sponsors for supporting me. TT thank you very much again, I love my country. Gotta give thanks to God for all these blessings, came in (and) shocked the world, I’m coming (2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil).”


Njisane Phillip dug deep into his reserves to produce a strong finish to his first Olympic campaign, the Trinidad and Tobago cyclist finishing seventh in the men's keirin, at the Velodrome, here in London, England, yesterday.

And at the Olympic Stadium, Semoy Hackett finished strong in the second of three women's 200 metres semi-final heats. The T&T sprinter advanced to the final as a "fastest loser" after copping third spot in an impressive 22.55 seconds, the clocking equalling her own national record.

"I feel proud to be in the final," said Hackett. "I prepared very hard. I'm mentally prepared."

Hackett was fourth coming off the bend, but powered down the straight to move into third spot, finishing behind American Allyson Felix (22.31) and Ivory Coast sprinter Murielle Ahoure (22.49).

At four o'clock this afternoon (T&T time), Hackett will become the first woman from T&T to face the starter in an Olympic Games 200m final.

Another T&T sprinter, Kai Selvon, finished fifth in the third semi-final in 23.04 seconds and did not progress to the championship race.

"It was the best I could have done," Selvon told the Express. "At the warmup track, I felt something in my leg–a little soreness from a past injury–so I just came out there and did the best I could have done. But I'll be okay.

"The experience was good," she continued. "I get to see how hard I have to work."

Phillip qualified for the second round of the keirin when he was promoted from fourth to third in his first round repechages heat, following the relegation of China's Zhang Miao "for not having held his line during the last 200 metres of the race".

Earlier, Phillip finished fourth in the opening first round heat. The top two progressed automatically to the second round, while the other riders competed in the repechages.

In the second round, Phillip finished fourth in heat one, missing out on a berth in the medal race by one spot.

And then, in the race for positions 7-12, Phillip made a bold bid for victory with two laps to go. He was still out front at the bell, and in the rush for the finish line held off his rivals.

"To tell you the truth," said Phillip, "that was the plan. I said this was my last race for a while, so just put it out there. I went down shooting. It was nice, it was nice. I was hurting though."

Phillip, who finished fourth in the sprint here in London, is now the most successful T&T cyclist in Olympic history. He edged past Gene Samuel, who was fourth in the kilometre time trial in 1984 and eighth in the same event in 1992.

Phillip is satisfied with his fourth and seventh place performances. But at the 2016 Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he wants to climb the podium.

"The next four years is going to be a long journey, so I'm going to take in a lot from that. My next goal will be Commonwealth Games 2014. That will be the next stepping stone.

"Thanks to the sponsors," Phillip continued, "everybody out there that supported me–tremendous support. I look forward to that support for 2016."

T&T's Wayne Davis II will square off against reigning world champion Jason Richardson for the second time at the London Games, in the first of three men's 110m hurdles semifinal heats, at 2.15 this afternoon (T&T time), at the Olympic Stadium.

Davis and Richardson clashed in the opening round, yesterday. The American topped heat two in 13.33 seconds, while Davis finished fourth, his 13.52 clocking earning him a "fastest loser" berth in the semis.

Davis had to wait about half hour to find out if he would advance. He did, the 20-year-old Texas A&M University student getting to the semifinal round on his Olympic debut.

"I'm just glad I'm in," a relieved Davis told the Express. "Got to rest up, and show people what I can really do."

Conditions at the Olympic Stadium during yesterday's first session were uncomfortably cold at times, the temperature dropping to 14 degrees Celsius.

"I'm used to a lot of heat because I live in Texas, so this is a big, big difference for me. But hey, you got to deal with it because this is where the Olympics is."

Davis won the 2007 world youth (under-18) sprint hurdles title for the United States, but switched allegiance last year. Yesterday's race was his first for T&T, the country of his parents' birth.

"Definitely a good feeling…my parents, making them proud. I'm not from there, but that's part of my roots, and representing my roots is better than anything."

Mikel Thomas bowed out in the opening round of the 110 hurdles. He copped fifth spot in heat three in 13.74 seconds, the T&T athlete hitting all ten barriers.

"Every time I race," Thomas told the Express, "I'm chasing perfection. There were different parts of the race I could have done better. I'm going to learn from this and move forward."

There was also disappointment yesterday for Rondel Sorrillo.

A men's 200m finalist at last year's World Championships, the T&T sprinter was hoping to repeat the feat here in London. However, Sorrillo could only finish fifth in heat two, and his 20.76 seconds clocking was not good enough to secure a lane in the semis as a "fastest loser".

"Coming round the turn," he explained, "the shoe was coming off my foot. After that, I didn't know where in the race I was. I tried to hold my form to come through strong."

Sorrillo, who was eliminated in the 100m semis, on Sunday, said that attempting the sprint double might also have contributed to his sub-par performance in the half-lap event.

"It probably did," he told the Express. "I thought I was able to do it, but I don't know yet."

T&T's world junior champion, Keshorn Walcott competes today in the men's javelin qualifying competition. He has been drawn in Group B, which starts at 3.50 p.m. (T&T time). To secure an automatic berth in Saturday's final, the 19-year-old must reach the 82-metre mark. Walcott's personal best is 82.83m.

By Kwame Laurence


A rare sight was witnessed at the Olympic Stadium, here in London, England, yesterday. For only the second time in Olympic history, the Trinidad and Tobago flag was raised during a 400 metres medal ceremony.

The man responsible for the hoisting of the Red, White and Black, Lalonde Gordon, was moved by the moment.

"Breathtaking. I can't believe it. I'm proud to make my country's flag raise."

The 23-year-old quartermiler wants to make such occasions the norm, rather than the exception.

On Monday, Gordon clocked a personal best 44.52 seconds to earn bronze in the one-lap final. Only Grenada's Kirani James, the winner in 43.94, and Dominican Republic's Luguelin Santos (44.46) got to the line ahead of the Lowlands, Tobago, quartermiler.

James is only 19, while Santos, who recently won the world junior (under-20) title, is 18. All things being equal, both men will again be in the hunt for precious metal at the 2016 Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. But so will Gordon, and he plans to make an even stronger bid for the top spot.

The New York-based athlete told the Express that in addition to usurping King Kirani's crown in Rio, he wants to join the Grenadian in the sub-44 club.

"My goal is to drop the national record into the 43s."

Ian Morris' 44.21 seconds T&T standard has been in the books for two decades. But Gordon is not daunted by the longevity of the mark. And he shouldn't be. After all, he just broke an agonisingly long drought, becoming the country's second Olympic 400m medallist, 48 years after Wendell Mottley became the first with silver at the 1964 Games, in Tokyo, Japan.

Gordon told the Express that when he woke up, yesterday, he was in a state of disbelief.

"I thought I was in a dream. My roommate, Ade Alleyne-Forte, had to remind me that I won the medal. I still couldn't believe it. I'm the underdog, and I made it to the top."

For a couple weeks, early in 2012, Gordon was the world leader in the indoor 400m. He clocked 46.51 seconds on January 13, and followed up with a 46.43 run eight days later.

Leading the world, he said, inspired him on the Road to London.

"I told myself I have to try to repeat it outdoors and show the world who I am."

Though he has lived in New York for most of his life, his family having moved there permanently when he was just seven, not even the people in his Queens neighbourhood were aware of Gordon's exploits on the track, before Monday's historic run.

"Nobody knows me... just a few friends in the area. The bronze has given me a great sense of confidence. I've made my country and area proud. I hope people will recognise me now."

They should. Lalonde Keida Gordon is the newly crowned King of Queens.

By Kwame Laurence


How do you go for gold in your career? Are you a Usain Bolt, sprinting towards your goal, or do you take things at a more relaxed pace?

We are in the throes of Olympic fever. Thousands of us are flocking to Olympic venues every day, eager to get a glimpse of an aerodynamic cycle helmet whizzing by, horses’ hooves kicking up sand and sails battling it out in the water.

We’ve been screaming with joy, shouting in frustration and weeping into our super-sized cups of Olympic-sanctioned beverages.

So which athlete do you take after in your career strategy? Are fastest out of the blocks or playing the long game to get to where you want to be?

The sprinter

Are you the career equivalent of Mr Usain Bolt? Have you left others for dust and zipped to the top in record timing?

There are ways and means of pin-pointing you. You love being the centre of attention and thrive on the thrill and chase of hunting down a new account or closing a deal. You’re pretty damn cocksure, like The Bolt-ster - if you were on a starting line you’d be pulling some pretty impressive signature moves. Let’s face it, you are probably in sales.

But while the sprinters on the track find their advantage in power, being a career sprinter can be more of a tactical affair. “If you are shrewd there are certain sectors in which you can achieve a career sprint,” says Yvonne Smyth, director at Hays, a leading recruiting expert. “If you look at in-demand skills in the sector you wish to work and train up in them, you can accelerate faster than your peers.”

If you are brilliant with clients and quickly collect a bursting contacts book, you can get all of the success and glory of the 100m final.

Just be careful not to burn out.

Most likely to find you in: Sales or recruitment

The marathon runner

In certain industries and organisations in which your progression can seem more like a marathon. You work hard to put the ground work in, keep up your stamina, and through sheer resilience get to where you want eventually.

Chances are you are not a massive fan of change. You like to keep a steady pace and are quite happy waiting it out in the same company for quite some time to get to the top. You don’t like the feeling of being out of your depth and always like to have a clear schedule in front of you - ideally for the whole year.

“In some organisations and sectors, with experience comes an assumption of age. There are certain clients that expect you to have a certain number of years behind you before appearing before them. This can often be the case in professional services, in which there are rigid structures and certain gates to progress through.”

The older-style business culture that favoured marathon careers is being eroded in many industries, making this kind of career less of a necessity for many. Whether you need to wait it out your dream promotion the full length of the marathon now depends on the hierarchical nature of the company.

“In the old world (before the .com age) there was an element of needing a big of grey hair to prove you’ve gone the distance with senior people look to recruit in their own image,” explains Smyth. “Things have changed. [Now] if you have the idea and the energy to generate revenue, you will not be left slogging to get round the first corner for long.”

Most likely to find you in: Law, accountancy, medicine

The pole vaulter

You are a creation of the digital era. It used to be a rare occurrence that workers were catapulted from zero to hero overnight, but now it happens quite regularly.

Mark Zuckerberg is the ultimate example of a pole vaulter. Still in college when he started, his career as skipped the maturing process and flipped him straight into the driving seat of one of the world’s best-known companies. Not a silver hair in sight.

You are a big risk taker because you chase those high rewards. If you’re not a plucky tech entrepreneur, replete with black rimmed glasses and one really good idea, you’re probably a trader. The trading floor can make or break someone in seconds, and you have to have nerves of steel. It’s high up there at the top of that jump that you could lose it all in a moment.

Most likely to find you in: Technology, finance

The triple jumper

You have more of a segmented career, punctuated with jumps. It’s all about tactical moves at the right time to build your CV and land on the last jump, exactly where you want to be. It’s about being bold and making the right step at precisely the right time and place.

There’s a high chance you work in PR or marketing, where the average stint in any job is only a couple of years. You make swift and powerful leaps in your career and are decisive in the steps you take, landing with familiar aplomb into the next sandpit.

“We have seen increasingly across the board that in the contract between the employer and the employee, the latter says, ‘I give you X, what do you give me?’ We see much more savvy workers for whom loyalty isn’t rewarded. A generation ago loyalty would have been a sought-out trait,” says Smyth.

“Candidates are happy to hop, skip and jump as long as it demonstrates progression. Employers have to work even harder as these candidates are less risk-averse.”

Most likely to find you in: Marketing or PR

The heptathlete

You are hard to find. Being a complete all-rounder can be hard when advice tell us to specialise in order to get ahead. But some of you just can’t help being a dab hand at just about everything you turn your hands to.

It is often the case that good all-rounders still excel in certain areas, but learn fast and are open to expanding their skill base beyond what is required.

You heptathletes often make great leaders – able to manage, strategize and fight fires. You work particularly well in a start-up where pretty much anything can be thrown at you.

“These type of employees have real breadth,” says Smyth. Though she warns: “Even if you are truly multi-skilled, you have to be an expert in one thing to really stand-out. Real generalists only ally their full range of skills when they reach a leadership role.”

By Gabriella Griffith


Kirani James became a history man tonight – although he is still a teenager.

The 19-year-old from Grenada (pictured top) became the second youngest ever winner of the Olympic 400 metres title as he ended a sequence of seven victories in this event by runners from the United States.

That sequence was always going to come to an end, of course, given that, for the first time ever in a non-boycotted Games, the US did not have a single representative in the final which was won in such emphatic fashion in 1996 and 2000 by the American who still holds the world record of 43.18sec, Michael Johnson.

But even the great Johnson got a small chip taken out of him by James, as his winning time of 43.98sec – the first time a non-US teenager had beaten 44 seconds – eclipsed the world champion's UK all-comers record.

"It just shows I'm on the right track," said James, after a race which saw silver go to fellow 19-year-old Luguelin Santos – who, less than an hour earlier, had been uplifted by seeing his 35-year-old  Dominican Republic team-mate Felix Sanchez reclaim the 400m hurdles title he won at the Athens 2004 Games.

Santos, who clocked 44.46, was followed home by Lalonde Gordon of Trinidad and Tobago, who recorded a personal best of 44.52 to complete a clean sweep for the smaller nations.

Grenada's population is a mere 110,000 – and James, who comes from a small fishing village, happily predicted that a good number of them might now be celebrating a victory which came a year after his startling defeat of the 2008 Olympic champion, LaShawn Merritt, to win the world title in Daegu.

"It's a huge step for my country in terms of stepping up to the plate in track and field," said James.

"This victory is putting us on the map.

"There is probably a huge street party going on right now."

There may also be a few celebrations taking place in Sunderland, where Kirani has been training in preparation for the Games in facilities organised by Britain's former world mile record holder and world 1500m champion, Steve Cram.

Merritt, who returned in 2011 from a two-year doping ban, had secured his right to run at these Games by overturning the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ruling against doping offenders competing at the next Games.

However, he pulled up in the heats here with an injured hamstring.

For Sanchez, who had won 43 consecutive 400m hurdles races as he secured two world titles before claiming the 2004 Olympic crown, the effort ended in tears – a bucketful of tears, on top of the podium, after recording a time of 47.63 that matched his winning Olympic effort eight years earlier.

He revealed afterwards that he had had the word "grandmother" written on his spikes in memory of the relative who had died during Beijing 2008 and to whom he had pledged another Olympic medal.

"When I was on the podium I felt the rain falling on me like my grandmother's tears," he said poetically.

Britain's team captain and world champion Dai Greene, who had been nonplussed after only managing to qualify for the final as a fastest loser, put everything into an effort which eventually saw him finish just one place off the podium in 48.24.

Michael Tinsley of the US took silver in a personal best of 47.91, with Puerto Rico's strong favourite, Javier Culson, only managing third place in 48.10.

Sanchez is one of two athletes to have known what it feels like to be unbeatable and who were seeking to reclaim Olympic glories here.

The other was Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva, whose quest to become the first woman in Olympic history to win three straight titles in any event ultimately ended with bronze in the pole vault competition.

Jennifer Suhr of the US took gold on countback ahead of Cuba's Yarisley Silva after both had cleared 4.75 metres.

Britain's Holly Bleasdale, who has already recorded the third best indoor mark of the season with 4.87m, failed to progress beyond 4.45m and finished equal sixth.

"The weather wasn't bad," said Isinbayeva, who revealed she had suffered a muscle tear in May which had severely limited her preparations for London.

"It was terrible." 

Yuliya Zaripova of Russia earned gold in the women's 3,000m steeplechase in a personal best of 9min 06.72sec, with Tunisia's Habiba Ghribi taking silver in a national record of 9:08.37 ahead of Ethiopia's Sofia Assefa who clocked 9:09.84.

In the shot put final, Nadzeya Ostapchuk earned an emphatic victory over Valerie Adams, the New Zealander who had beaten her at the previous year's World Championships, producing four throws of over 21 metres, the best of which was 21.36.

Adams took silver with 20.70 ahead of Russia's Evgeniia Kolodko who recorded a personal best of 20.48.

By Mike Rowbottom at the Olympic Stadium in London