Baptiste, T&T women out 4x1 relay

Trinidad and Tobago bowed out of the Olympic Games Women’s 4x100 metres relay here in Tokyo, Japan, yesterday. Khalifa St Fort, Michelle-Lee Ahye, Kai Selvon and Kelly-Ann Baptiste combined for a 43.62 seconds run. The clocking saw T&T finish eighth in the second of two heats.

Baptiste made her final Olympic appearance in the Tokyo 2020 sprint relay heat, anchoring her team to 15th spot overall. Germany won heat two in 42 seconds flat, while top spot in the opening heat went to Great Britain in a national record time of 41.55.

Baptiste said fitness and a lack of practice as a unit were factors that contributed to T&T’s performance.

“I can only speak for myself,” the veteran sprinter told the Express. “I’m nowhere close to the fitness level I would have been several years ago.”

T&T’s clocking was much slower than the 42.03 national record.

“I think we did well. We only ran together one time in Miramar (Florida). This group of ladies aren’t complacent, so I know they’re very, very disappointed.”

Baptiste is expecting a T&T women’s sprint relay revival at the 2022 World Championships in Eugene, Oregon, USA.

“Whether I’m there or not next season, I’m really confident that the current group of ladies, along with the ones that are coming up, will put together a really good showing in Eugene.”

Baptiste said the future of female sprinting in T&T is in good hands.

“Khalifa, after not running for two seasons, is just coming back. Michelle-Lee – she never really went anywhere – but she’s just coming back.”

Ahye missed out on a lane in the Tokyo 2020 Women’s 100m final by just one-thousandth of a second.

“What Michelle-Lee did without racing for a year or two is amazing,” said Baptiste. “We also have Ayla (Stanisclaus) coming up. There’s Kai and Semoy (Hackett) as well. The World Championships being in the United States next year is an advantage for our team.”

Baptiste, Ahye, St Fort, Stanisclaus, Selvon and Hackett are all based in the US.

“And I think that all the breaks in training that everyone had because of Covid-19,” Baptiste continued, “will be rectified, and you’ll see a stronger Team T&T next season.”

Baptiste, a five-time Olympian for T&T, is in the twilight of her career. She said she was looking forward to seeing the continued growth of female sprinting in T&T when she finally hangs up her spikes.

“I’ve passed the baton to Michelle-Lee. So she’s there, and others are coming to follow suit. I only see Michelle-Lee getting better from here. I only seeing Khalifa improving. I only see Kai, Ayla and Semoy getting better. So I am really, really optimistic about the next two major Championships. And of course there’s Commonwealth Games as well. I think we’re in good hands.”

At 7.25 this morning (T&T time), T&T will see action in the qualifying round of the Men’s 4x400m relay. T&T do battle in heat one, taking on Netherlands, Italy, Great Britain, Czech Republic, United States, Germany and Botswana. The T&T quartet will be chosen from Deon Lendore, Machel Cedenio, Dwight St Hillaire, Jereem “The Dream” Richards, Asa Guevara and Che Lara.