Defending javelin champion Keshorn Walcott will literally carry Trinidad and Tobago’s last hope of gaining an Olympic Games medal at the Joao Havelange Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro here today.
Walcott, the gold medallist from the London Games (See page A64), became the country’s last ray of hope after the country’s relay teams failed to break the medal drought last night, with two teams—the men’s 4x100 metres and 4x400 metres—being disqualified for infringements in the finals. The women’s 4x100 metre team meanwhile placed sixth in their event in a season’s best time of 42.12 seconds.
Up to press time the status of the 4x400 metre team’s protest was not clear nor was the infringement committed by the team, which clocked 2:58.84.
National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) president Ephraim Serrette told the T&T Guardian last night, “We have lodged an appeal and we have to wait to see what happens, but it is tough at this stage, everyone is concerned.”
He added, “It has been called as lane violation 163.3 on the second leg, which is to say that Lalonde Gordon may have come across too early, which would be a major setback for our team.”
Jamaica won that race in 2:58.29, followed by the USA in 2:58.38 and Botswana in 2:59.35.
In the women’s 4x100 relay final, the quartet of Semoy Hackette, Michelle Lee Ahye, Kelly-Ann Baptiste and Khalifa St Fort, running in that order, posted a season’s best time of 42.12 seconds for fifth place.
A disappointed Ahye said: “We came out and we tried our best but on the day it was not good enough. We all wanted a medal badly but it was not to be.”
Jamaica secured the silver medal in 41.36 and Great Britain bagged the bronze in 41.77 seconds.
The American women retained their 4x100 relay title and helped Allyson Felix capture a record fifth Olympic gold medal. The Americans, who needed to set a qualifying time in a solo rerun hours after dropping the baton in the preliminaries and getting a second chance on protest, won the final in 41.01 seconds.
Among the men, the team of Keston Bledman, Rondell Sorillo, Emmanuel Callender and Richard Thompson were also disqualified for a lane violation, as were the United States. Video footage has shown that Callender, in the third leg, appeared to have stepped on the line during his handing to anchor man Thompson.
After the race, Callender said: “We’re disappointed. We ran as we wanted, we felt everything was okay and we are sad at the final result, but we are not giving up...There is a lot people do not know, when all they do is criticise the athletes. As athletes we come here to compete and make our country proud, so we need everyone to understand that."
Thompson added: “This is not what we wanted as we were aiming for a medal...I will go home to my family, talk to my wife and play with my son and evaluate myself and where I am. But I am not talking retirement.”
Usain Bolt, the star of the Games, completed his triple-triple, anchoring the Jamaica 4x100-metre relay to victory in the final to ensure three gold medals at three consecutive Olympics.
Bolt, 29, who has won the 100, 200 and 4x100 relay gold medals at Beijing, London and now Rio, crossed in 37.27 seconds. The Jamaicans were followed to the line by Japan, which set an Asian record to take the silver in 37.60, holding off the third-place Americans by 0.02. However, the Americans were disqualified for a zone violation.
Along with Bolt for his final trip down the track were Nickel Ashmeade, training partner Yohan Blake and the Jamaican elder statesman, former world-record holder Asafa Powell.
Back to drawing board
Speaking after last night’s relays, T&T Olympic Committee president Brian Lewis said we have to “get up and go back to the drawing board” after what he labelled a “tough night” for the country.
Saying the country has to be “resilient,” Lewis added, “It’s a tough night for TeamTTO in Rio. The Olympics is the ultimate test. The agony of defeat is gut-wrenching but you have to be resilient. We have to get over it, get up and go back to the drawing board.”
He thanked all those who represented the country at the Games.
“I am tremendously grateful to the athletes who went out and gave their all for their country. Trinidad and Tobago was represented in both the men and women’s 4x100 relay final. I am proud of them,” he said.
Public relations officer of the NAAA, Peter Samuel, last night confirmed that a protest had been lodged against the 4x400 team’s disqualification.