media_artricles :: 2017
NAAA to crown new sprint kingTrinidad Guardian :: 22.06.2017
A new sprint champion will be crowned at this weekend's National Gas Company (NGC)/ Sagicor/National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) Open Track & Field Championships, as defending champion Richard Thompson will not face the starter in the men's 100 metres event.
The three-time Olympic medallist is not among the list of entries for the dash which will run off its preliminary heats later this evening at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port-of-Spain from 6.50 pm.
However, blazing times and tough competition are expected in the event, as some of the nation's best sprinters battle for a chance to compete in London at the World Championships in August.
NAAA president Ephriam Serrette knows its going to be a busy weekend with many of T&T's leading track and field stars and prospects for the future in action at the event, hoping to earn entry to Worlds by virtue of their performance.
"The Championships is mandatory for all athletes to return to try to qualify for any major event," said Serrette. "It is also a great opportunity for them to go head-to-head, seeking one of the final three spots to compete at the World Championships and also for selection of the relay teams. However, they still have a month after the local Championships, until July 4, to qualify for Worlds."
Two-time Olympic medallists Keston Bledman, Emmanuel Callender and Rondell Sorrillo, last year's runner-up in the sprint, Olympians Kyle Greaux, Marcus Duncan and hurdler Mikel Thomas, who will also feature in the 110m hurdles, are some of the familiar faces to line up in the men's 100m.
They will be challenged by some of the local athletes who have been competing credibly on the US collegiate circuit including Haysean Cowie-Clarke, Moriba Morain, Dan-Neil Telesford, Machael Mark and Micah Ballantyne.
There is also as much, if not more anticipation for the women's version of the race as Michelle-Lee Ahye returns to not only try to repeat as champion but defend her double sprint title.
The likes of Olympians Kelly-Ann Baptiste, Semoy Hackett, Kamaria Durant, Reyare Thomas and Khalifa St Fort are the top contenders to disrupt Ahye's hope of making history. College stars in Zakiya Denoon, Peli Alzola and Kayelle Clarke also bring quality to the field.
The same is expected in the women's 200m as all are entered along with another Olympian Kai Selvon.
Jereem Richards headlines the men's 200m event and will challenge Sorrillo, the reigning champion in the half-lap race. Richards has certainly been blazing the track on the College circuit, recently clocking of 19.97 seconds to top the 200m quarterfinal heat at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1 East Preliminary meet in Kentucky, USA, to join Ato Boldon, who previously was the lone local athlete to dive under 20 seconds in the event.
The rivalry in the men's 400m continues with leading quartermilers Olympic medallists Lalonde Gordon, Jarrin Solomon and Deon Lendore along with World Championships silver medallist Machel Cedenio and Renny Quow, the 2009 World Championships bronze medallist, facing off in the preliminary heats also this evening.
Over the next two days, spectators will also get to see former World champion Jehue Gordon compete in the 400m hurdles event while in the women's race, local hurdlers Janeil Bellille and Sparkle McKnight will feature.
Over the field, Olympic gold medallist Keshorn Walcott will be flexing his muscles when he go for glory in the men's javelin event. He has been thriving on the international scene, having most recently picked up a bronze at at thePaavo Nurmi Games, an IAAF World Challenge Meeting in Turku, Finland.
Propped up by his third straight Carifta javelin gold medal won earlier this year, Tyriq Horsford, will challenge the Rio Olympic bronze medallist as well as Shakiel Waithe, Walcott's training partner.
Five-time "Sportswoman of Year", Cleopatra Borel, will feature in women's shot put event.
The championship will include sprints, hurdles, long-distance running, discus, shot put, javelin, long jump, high jump, pole vault and the relays, closes off on Sunday.
"BVI (British Virgin Islands), Nigeria and St Kitts and Nevis will all field a team in the 4x100m relay so T&T's 4x100m women's team that did not qualify at the World Relays, will get a chance to do so this weekend," said Serrette. "The junior men's team, the U-20s, will compete in both the 4x100m and 4x400m men's relays."
Michelle Lee Ahye