Selvon impresses on debut
By Kwame Laurence in DaeguRECORD RUN
Trinidad and Tobago's Kai Selvon celebrated her IAAF World Championship debut with a national junior record, here in Daegu, Korea, yesterday.
Selvon finished third in heat four in the opening round of the women's 200 metres, the 19-year-old sprinter getting to the line in 22.89 seconds to improve on the 22.93 T&T under-20 standard established by Kelly-Ann Baptiste in 2005.
After the race, Selvon told the Express she is happy to be the new national junior record holder.
"It feels good."
Selvon was third coming off the bend, and maintained that position on the straight, finishing behind American Shalonda Solomon (22.69) and Ukraine's Mariya Ryemyen (22.77) to secure an automatic berth in the semis.
"I went out there and did what my coach (Henry Rolle) told me to do," a confident Selvon declared.
The Auburn University student said her very first outing at a senior global meet was extremely challenging.
"A lot of nerves," she explained, "but I controlled it."
Selvon was also challenged by the heat and humidity at the Daegu Stadium.
Conditions were more comfortable for the semi-final round. Selvon, though, had an extremely tough assignment. The teenager squared off against two-time Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica and the three-time defending world champion, American Allyson Felix in the third and final heat. Bulgarian Ivet Lalova, who finished seventh in Monday's 100m final, was also in the race.
With just two athletes in each heat advancing automatically to the final, qualification was always going to be a difficult proposition.
Selvon produced a strong finish to secure fourth spot. But any hopes of advancing as a "fastest loser" were dashed by a stiff 1.8 metres per second headwind, the T&T teen clocking 23.11 seconds to finish 17th overall.
Campbell-Brown won in 22.53, beating Felix (22.67) and Lalova (23.03) into second and third, respectively.
Though she had hoped to advance to the final, Selvon was satisfied with her semi-final effort.
"The run was good. It's just that the wind gave me a little fight, but all that's in the game I guess."
T&T's female sprinters have been enjoying a successful campaign here in Daegu.
Baptiste claimed bronze in the 100m dash to become the country's first-ever female sprint medallist at a major senior global meet. Semoy Hackett and Michelle-Lee Ahye reached the semis. In the opening round, Ahye clocked a personal best 11.20 seconds.
Selvon said she's inspired by the medal-winning performance produced by Baptiste. The national 200m champion is also impressed by Ayhe's World Championship debut.
"I'm glad for her. There are better things to come for both of us."
The T&T combination of Zwede Hewitt, Jarrin Solomon, Deon Lendore and Renny Quow exited in the qualifying round of the men's 4x400m relay.
T&T returned a time of three minutes, 02.47 seconds to cop sixth spot in heat one. United States topped the race in 2:58.82, finishing ahead of Jamaica (2:59.13) and South Africa. The South Africans, led off by double-amputee Oscar Pistorius, clocked 2:59.21—a new national record.
Hewitt performed leadoff duties for T&T and had a tough time way out in lane eight.
"I couldn't see anybody on the side of me, but I tried my best."
Close to the back of the race at the end of the opening leg, T&T faced an uphill battle in their bid to finish among the top three and qualify automatically for the final.
Solomon, the T&T second leg, was unable to turn things around.
"We did not get off to a good start. If you don't get up with the mix at the beginning, it's hard to come back."
Great Britain finished fourth in heat one in 3:00.38, while Germany clocked 3:00.68 to cop fifth spot. Both teams advanced to the final via the "fastest loser" route.
The second heat was much slower. In fact, the first five teams in heat one were faster than heat two winners Belgium. The Belgians clocked 3:00.71.
"When I came out there," 18-year-old Lendore told the Express, "I knew the competition would be tough. I didn't expect it to be that hard."
Anchorman Quow was at a loss to explain T&T's performance.
"I can't really say what went wrong. Everybody did what they were supposed to do."
T&T sprinters Rondel Sorrillo and Emmanuel Callender were at the stadium after press time, last night (T&T time), running in the first round of the men's 200m. The semis will be contested from 6.55 this morning (T&T time).
IMPRESSIVE: USA's Allyson Felix, second from left, Jamaica's Veronica Campbell-Brown, right, Bulgaria's Ivet Lalova and Trinidad and Tobago's Kai Selvon, back left, cross the finish line in a Women's 200-metre semi-final at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea, yesterday. —Photo: AP