Less than 24 hours after their historic third-place finish in Saturday's IAAF World Championship women's 4x100 metres final, Kelly-Ann Baptiste, Michelle-Lee Ahye, Reyare Thomas and Semoy Hackett returned to the Bird's Nest Stadium here in Beijing, China, yesterday, to receive their bronze medals.
Baptiste, who ran the leadoff leg for Trinidad and Tobago, told the Express that the medal ceremony was a very special occasion.
“It felt good to see our flag being raised, and knowing that it was our efforts that got it there. When you have those experiences, it drives you more to push yourself and be a better athlete, and to keep on having those types of occurrences at every championship.”
For Ahye, the T&T second leg runner, it was an emotional experience.
“Once I saw the flag going up, it kind of brought a tear to my eye. I kind of held it in, but I felt really proud to be out there.”
Third leg runner Thomas concurred.
“It felt great to know we were able to get a bronze medal and make Trinidad and Tobago proud.”
Anchorwoman Hackett gave her impressions of the medal ceremony.
“We were happy and a bit emotional,” she told the Express, “because of the struggle we have had in the relay, and individually as athletes. To actually get it done on the major stage was overwhelming. I felt proud of all of us. We went out as a team and we got the job done as a team. We achieved everything as a team.”
While Khalifa St Fort was not on the podium, yesterday, she contributed as well to World Championship bronze, the 17-year-old anchoring the team to second spot in their qualifying heat.
St Fort hopes to be part of future medal ceremonies. On this occasion, she recorded the moment.
“It felt great,” said the bubbly teenager. “I loved watching them. It was so exciting to see the Trinidad and Tobago flag go up, and they looked so happy. I took so many pictures. I'm so proud of them.”
The flags of the medal-winning countries are raised at all medal ceremonies. This time, IAAF World Championship women's 4x1 gold went to Jamaica, with United States getting silver and T&T bronze. Only one anthem, however, is played, and the requirement is gold. Yesterday, the honour went to Jamaica.
Baptiste said she is looking forward to the day “Forged from the Love of Liberty” is played during a women's 4x100m medal ceremony at a major senior global meet.
“That could happen very soon,” the 2011 World Championship 100m bronze medallist declared, “very very soon. Especially for the other girls, since it's their first time actually being on that podium, I know it's extra motivation for them to train hard and to compete with the best of the best in the world.”
Hackett is already looking forward to T&T's Olympic medal bid.
“Hopefully, next year we can go on and be stronger and better for Rio 2016.”
Quadruple Olympic medallist Ato Boldon is now coaching, and has been a key figure in the preparation of the women's 4x100m team here in Beijing.
T&T manager Dexter Voisin has also played an important role on the journey.
“I have been around this team from since 2005,” Voisin told the Express, “and I think I qualify to give a comment on what I think went well with regards to this 4x1.
“In the past, the women, just as the men, we always tried for them to understand the importance of relays. In these major championships, even when the men were disappointing in their individual events, somehow or the other we were able to pull out some medals in the relays.
“This time around,” he continued, “the women, they understood their potential, understood how they stood coming into this championship with regard to the relay. I remember in one of the team meetings I made them understand that they need to see the relay differently in comparison to how they looked at it in the past.”
Voisin said evidence of the new relay attitude was on display after Hackett and Thomas exited the 200m event at the semi-final stage.
“The following day,” said the manager, “they were out on the track going through the paces with the batons. In the past they would take a day-off and then come the following day. But they saw where they needed to go out there and work on the baton passing. They recognised the baton passing was the problem over the years, and they understood what needed to be done at these Championships.”
Yesterday, T&T's best female sprinters enjoyed the fruit of their labour—World Championship bronze medals as a reward for Saturday's 42.03 seconds national record run.