Former national sprint legend Ato Boldon believes strong performances by this country’s relay teams in recent times can lead T&T to its best ever medal haul at the Rio Olympics from August 5-21 this year.
The 4x100 metres men’s and women’s teams, and the 4x400m men’s relay teams have all competed at a high level since the 2012 London Olympics. Boldon, speaking following the First Citizens Sports Foundation Youth Awards at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad last Friday, believes the country’s relay teams can lead T&T to a successful showing in Rio.
Boldon said: “This team is capable of bringing home more than even the London team because of what the relay teams have done recently. The women’s 4x100m third (in the world) as we speak, the men’s 4x400 second as we speak, the men’s 4x100 who has been our most consistent relay team in history having a chance to bounce back and maybe finding some new blood.”
At the 2012 London Olympics T&T won four medals—one gold and three bronze. Keshorn Walcott won T&T’s second ever gold medal at the Olympics when he took home the men’s javelin, while bronze medals were won by Lalonde Gordon (men’s 400m) and the men’s 4x400m and men’s 4x100m relay teams.
Much is expected from the women’s 4x100m relay team this year after Kelly-Ann Baptiste, Michelle Lee Ahye, Reyare Thomas and Semoy Hackett won bronze at the World Championships last year. It was the first time a T&T women’s 4x100m relay team won a medal at the World Championships.
Another highlight of the T&T relay teams last year was produced by the men’s 4x400m unit which won gold at the Pan American Games in Toronto. The quartet of Jarrin Solomon, Renny Quow, Machel Cedenio and Gordon copped the gold medal for T&T.
Boldon added, “And that is before we start to talk about anybody who is capable of winning an individual medal such as the Keshorns (Walcott), Jehues (Gordon), Richard (Thompson), Kelly-Ann (Baptiste) and others. I am very optimistic about what Rio can hold for us.”
Boldon who coaches national senior sprinters Thompson and Baptiste and junior athlete Khalifa St Fort is excited what the year has in store for them.
After St Fort won the Female Youth of the Year 2015 award, Boldon said, “I am excited about the year for her and all my charges from T&T. My real task is to keep them all healthy and keep the wheels on because its an Olympic year.”
St Fort won a silver medal at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Colombia last year in 11.19 seconds. Boldon has set St Fort goals this year, saying, “When I put my goals out for the year for her I told her if you run 11.09, a tenth faster than last year you will be the second fastest US High School girl ever.”
Boldon was surprised when St Fort told him that her goal was to run under 10.9 but said with hard work anything is possible. “What she has shown me in the weight room and on the track, her dedication, focus and commitment sub 11 is definitely a possibility.”