Michelle-Lee Ahye and Jereem "The Dream" Richards booked semi-final lanes at the World Athletics Championships here in Budapest, Hungary, yesterday.
At 2.35 this afternoon (T&T time), Ahye faces the starter in the opening women's 100 metres semi. The Trinidad and Tobago track star will run in lane three. Also listed for heat one is the defending champion, Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce as well as Great Britain's Daryll Neita, American Tamari Davis and Poland's Ewa Swoboda. The top two will progress automatically to the 3.50 p.m. final.
In the opening round, Ahye clocked a season's best 11.16 seconds to finish second in heat four, behind Jamaican Shericka Jackson, the winner in 11.06, and ahead of Germany's Gina Luckenkemper (11.21). All three advanced automatically to the semi-final round.
Ahye, the national record holder at 10.82 seconds, told the Express she was happy to clock 11.16 in the opening round, and is hoping to go faster in the semis.
"My season started off rocky and late, and where my mental is I was expecting a little worse in the first round, but they say walk by faith, not by sight. That's what I'm doing right now."
Ahye, who was based in the USA up to last season, had to make major adjustments in 2023. The 2018 Commonwealth Games 100m champion is now training at home under the guidance of Antonia Burton, one of the TTO coaches here in Budapest.
"It took me probably four to five months to get adapted to training at home but it's good so far. I switched to Antonia, her track and gym programme, and so far she's helping me a lot. We both come from Carenage so I've known her for a long time. We clicked instantly.
"At a meet this big," Ahye continued, "I need my coach with me so having her here is a weight off my shoulder."
Another TTO sprinter, Leah Bertrand bowed out in the opening round of the women's 100m after finishing sixth in heat three in 11.32 seconds. Top spot in the race went to Swoboda in 10.98.
Bertrand, who was 29th overall in the first round, is just 21 and a debutante at the World Athletics Championships.
"This means a lot," the young sprinter told the Express. "It's an unreal feeling that I'm actually at this level right now. It's a really big meet. I never experienced it before so it's good to get a little piece of it. I'll work extremely hard to make sure I qualify to go to the Olympics in Paris next year."
Bertrand, who clocked a personal best 11.08 seconds in May, said that being on a national team with Ahye is a big boost.
"Growing up watching Michelle-Lee was very much an inspiration. I always wanted to be at her level, follow her lead, which is something I've been doing so it's really good to be here with her. She's very inspirational."
Richards successfully negotiated his first Budapest 23 hurdle, yesterday, finishing third in heat three of the men's 400m to secure an automatic berth in the semis.
The two-time Commonwealth Games 200m champion clocked 45.15 seconds to finish behind Norway's Havard Ingvaldsen, the winner in a national record time of 44.39, and American Vernon Norwood (44.87).
Running in the difficult lane two, Richards was up against it. "I felt like I went out hard enough," he told the Express, "but being in two I couldn't judge where four, five and six actually were until I got into the turn."
Turning into the home straight, Richards had some work to do to secure a semi-final berth. The T&T track star was equal to the task, grabbing third spot to stay alive in the race for one-lap precious metal.
"I couldn't panic. I had to stay relaxed and not tighten up so that's what I did. I got the job done, but not the way I wanted to. I'm still thankful, still grateful. I hadn't run since Senior Champs. I had setbacks, and I'm just trying to work my way back but it didn't feel bad. I just have to go into the semi-finals and readjust. Hopefully I get a better lane."
Richards got his wish. At 3 p.m.(T&T time) tomorrow, the Point Fortin sprinter will run in lane four in the opening men's 400m semi-final heat. His training partner, South Africa's world record-holder Wayde van Niekerk has been drawn in lane eight, next to Norwood, in seven. The top two finishers in each semi will qualify automatically for Thursday's final.