Seventeen-year-old Khalifa St Fort set a new national Under 18 record to win silver in the Girls 100m sprint at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Cali, Colombia on Thursday night.
St Fort, who is coached by local sprint legend Ato Boldon, stopped the clock at 11.19 to finish behind American Candace Hill (11.08) while fellow US athlete Jayla Kirkland was third in 11.41. It went down as the eighth fastest Girls Under 18 100m time in history and marked St Fort's third personal best run in nine hours, following her 11.39 and 11.24 in her heat and semifinal respectively.
“A star is born,” tweeted a proud Boldon following the result. “Broadcasting doesn't feel this good.”
St Fort, who was born in the USA to a Trinidadian mother, began training under Boldon in 2014 after, according to Boldon, being “ignored by her high school coach for two and a half years” at the prestigious St. Thomas Aquinas sprint programme.
In an interview earlier this year, he had stated she was a special talent with a bright future.
“Understand this is not what I do—go seeking high school athletes,” Boldon said. “I am busy traveling the world and broadcasting in my jobs as broadcaster and ambassador for the sport, but when I see a young talent being wasted, I am compelled to get involved.”
President of the National Association of Athletic Administration Ephraim Serrette was full of praise for the young athlete.
“We have been getting updates from her coach and to have those performances means her preparation has been very good,” he said. “It augers well for the future of our female sprint team.”
In other events, Akanni Hislop withdrew from his 200m heat yesterday, having picked up a hamstring injury in the 100m semi-finals the day before. With a personal best of 20.91, Hislop was the fourth fastest sprinter entered in the event. His heat was won by Australian Jack Hale in 21.31.
Meanwhile, World 400m Hurdles champion Jehue Gordon has withdrawn from the ongoing Pan American Games in Toronto Canada on medical grounds following a request from his doctor and management team. Gordon was not among the T&T athletics team which departed from Piarco at 1:05 am yesterday morning.
According to a press release by the National Association of Athletic Administration, the 23-year-old is “nursing a minor injury and it was felt best to allow him time to recuperate rather than be subject to intense competition ahead of the upcoming IAAF World Championships in Beijing.”
The release stated that the team's mood remained upbeat as the remaining athletes looked to build on their success this year.
“It's disappointing,” said Serrette. “You would want your best athletes to be in top shape in time for international meets.”