Ahye leads T&T trio into women’s 100 semis

“I came here for one purpose and one purpose only. It's to be on that podium.”

Michelle-Lee Ahye was brimming over with confidence after her opening round run in the IAAF World Championship women's 100 metres dash, here in Beijing, China, yesterday. And the Trinidad and Tobago sprint star had good reason, winning heat three in 10.98 seconds, into a 1.2 metres per second headwind.

“I'm actually in shock to see that time,” Ahye told the Express, “because my coach said to execute the first 40 (metres) and then look to see if I'm in a good position. I did that, I shut it down, looked at the time…I was like wow. It just shows I'm in shape and ready to run.”

Ahye runs in the third and final semi-final heat at 7.54 this morning (TT time). Among her rivals in the race will be Jamaica's 2007 100m world champion Veronica Campbell-Brown. But Ahye is fully fit again, following a troublesome leg injury, and ready for the challenge.

“After that injury it got me enough rest to build back my body and stuff. I'm good,” Ahye declared, “a hundred per cent healthy.”

Ahye's T&T teammates, Kelly-Ann Baptiste and Semoy Hackett will also be on show in the semis. At 7.47am, Baptiste squares off against American Tori Bowie in the second semi. And in the opener, scheduled for 7.40, Hackett takes on Jamaica's defending world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Nigerian Blessing Okagbare.

The top two in each heat will progress to the 9.35am final.

In round one, Baptiste looked very comfortable in winning heat six in 11.13 seconds. The T&T sprint star was also at the Bird's Nest Stadium in 2008, representing T&T at the Olympic Games.

“I have a lot of things in the back of my head. One of them is that I came here in 2008 and didn't do as well as I wanted to, so I'm just embracing the opportunity to compete. For me it's making the final, and once I do that, I feel like everything is possible. Everybody in the eight lanes has an equal chance to run well, so I'm just focused on making it to the final.”

For Baptiste, the experience at the last IAAF World Championships was not a happy one. She left Moscow, Russia in disgrace after it was revealed that she had a positive drug test in April, 2013. After serving a 21-month ban, the Florida-based sprinter returned to competition in February this year.

“Sometimes, because of media, public,” Baptiste told the Express, “it's always going to come up. But for me personally, it's behind me. The way I've performed this year testifies that hard work and training is all I've been doing. Given the unfortunate circumstances, I was in that position, but I feel great knowing I was able to come back, replicate my performances from years past. In that sense, it's completely behind me.”

Hackett is also enjoying a successful comeback season on the heels of a drug ban. She returned to the track in June, following a 28-month suspension.

In heat five, yesterday, Hackett clocked 11.16 seconds, equalling her season's best and securing second spot in the race, behind Dutch sprinter Dafne Schippers (11.01).

“I don't feel much pressure,” Hackett told the Express. “I think the 200 is my better shot, but I didn't want to go straight into the 200, so I said let me try the 100, see how I feel, and then it would probably pump my esteem to go into the 200.”