Khalifa St Fort is a strong contender for precious metal in today’s girls’ 100 metres dash, at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Cali, Colombia. The American-born Trinidad and Tobago sprinter opens her medal quest in the preliminary round. The first heat is scheduled for 11.40am (T&T time). The semis will be contested from 7.10pm, and the final at 9.05pm.

St Fort is the second fastest entrant in the girls’ 100m with the 11.43 seconds personal best she clocked in Florida, USA on May 23. The fastest is American Candace Hill, who carries the favourite’s mantle after stopping the clock at a jaw-dropping 10.98 on June 20. The clocking is the world youth (Under-18) record, as well as the American junior (Under-20) record.

“People are expecting me to run that fast again,” said Hill at Tuesday’s IAAF press conference, “but I know that might have been a once-in-a-lifetime moment. The girl from Trinidad and Tobago is a great athlete. I feel like we’re going to go head-to-head in the finals.”

St Fort’s coach, T&T’s quadruple Olympic medallist Ato Boldon said at the press conference that Hill’s 10.98 run has served as a fillip for his athlete.

“Khalifa’s whole season changed when she saw that 10.98, because when someone she runs against runs a huge personal best, it shows you it’s possible. I know Khalifa is ready to run a personal best here and you can tie it to watching that 10.98.

“It’s the best thing that ever happened and it makes it easier to compete here because nobody is asking her questions. All the pressure is on Candace so it allows her to just come in and compete. She has done everything I’ve asked of her, (Candace Hill) is the only person to run faster than her; this is the beginning.”

St Fort is looking forward to stepping on the track in the Colombian city.

“My expectations are to execute my game plan well. Of course the goal is to get first, but I’ve come a long way and just to be here is an experience. Whatever the outcome is I’ll be happy.”

Another T&T athlete, Akidah Briggs will compete in the girls’ shot put qualifying competition from 10.35 this morning. The final is scheduled for 8.30pm.

Akanni Hislop was expected to face the starter late yesterday in the third and final boys’ 100m semi-final heat. The final was scheduled for ten o’clock last night.

Hislop was a runaway winner of heat two in the preliminary round of the boys’ century. The T&T sprinter clocked 10.53 seconds for a comfortable cushion on second-placed Jack Hale (10.66) of Australia.

Hislop had the sixth fastest time in the opening round. Japan’s Abdul Hakim Sani Brown, meanwhile, confirmed his status as favourite with victory in heat one in a Championship record time of 10.30 seconds. The previous Championship standard of 10.31 was established by T&T’s Darrel Brown in the 2001 final, in Debrecen, Hungary.