TRINIDAD AND Tobago’s leading athletes and Rio Olympics’ hopefuls Machel Cedenio, Michelle-Lee Ahye, KellyAnn Baptiste and Lalonde Gordon are listed to compete at the inaugural Racers Grand Prix at the Jamaica National Stadium today.
The Racers Athletics Club is the home club of the world’s greatest sprinter Usain Bolt plus other world class speed merchants in London Olympics 100-metre silver medallist Yohan Blake, Commonwealth 100-metre champion Kemar Bailey-Cole and London Olympics 200-metre bronze-medallist Warren Weir. The premier 100-metre race will generate tremendous excitement with Bolt taking on his illustrious compatriots Blake and former 100-metre world record holder Asafa Powell who has already been exhibiting fine form on the outdoor circuit.
Those “Big Three” plus fellow countrymen Bailey-Cole and Nickel Ashmeade will definitely create great stir and debate among Jamaicans who will be backing their own favourite athlete to win the race.
On the distaff side, Jamaica’s reigning London Olympics champion ShellyAnn Fraser Pryce would normally be the outstanding favourite to win the women’s 100 metres dash. But she clocked 11.18 seconds and finished last in the Diamond League Prefontaine Classic race recently.
USA’s English Gardner (10.81) won the race and was followed home by compatriot Tianna Bartoletta (10.94) and Ivory Coast’s Murielle Ahure (11.01). It was Fraser-Pryce first outing on the track for the 2016 season following an injury sustained last year.
Trinidad and Tobago Olympics aspirants Ahye and Baptiste will match strides with the speedy Jamaican who would be using the meet to build for Rio Olympics where she is aiming to register a unique Olympics triple sprint crown.
Both Ahye and Baptiste are also sharpening-up for a different mission from the world-rated Jamaican and carry with them the silent hope and ambition of creating a major upset in Brazil.
Ahye started the season on an encouraging note but has been struggling to stay in contention for podium finish in subsequent races. She will be hoping to re-discover her early season’s form and be better positioned to challenge for medals at the Rio Olympics.
Meanwhile, Baptiste who is known to produce fast times in the early part of the season will be also be aiming to finish in the top three at Rio. But she must get off to an impressive start and build the momentum.
Also on a mission to prove himself among the established world class quarter-milers is TT’s rising star Cedenio who picked up Pan American bronze in Toronto last year and followed up with a seventh place finish in the men 400 final at the Beijing World champs in August last year.
The former world junior champion will be up against Jamaica’s leading quarter-miler Javon Francis who has shown good form already during the outdoor season. It should be a fascinating race between the two whose different styles will generate much tension. Francis is a front-runner and goes out very fast while Cedenio is a late-charger and usually build-ups before changing gears in the final 100-metre.
TT’s London Olympics 400m bronze-medallist Gordon will also be out to prove his class in the one-lap race.
But the Caribbean threesome will not have an easy trip around the track as they will have to match strides and have the sustained power to stay with reigning South Africa’s world 400-metre champion Dawyne Van Niekerk who is already in Jamaica getting acclimatised to the conditions with the hope to maintain his winning ways.