Off a near two-year hiatus, Kelly-Ann Baptiste is finally set to represent T&T once again with her inclusion into a near full-strength 23-athlete national team for the second edition of the IAAF/BTC World Relays, which runs from May 2-3, again in Nassau, Bahamas.
Baptiste is set to run in T&T colours for the first time since her ban by the IAAF for the use of banned substances, which took effect in 2013 and was lifted in January.
The 28 year-old Tobago-born national 55m (indoor), 100m and 200m record holder is expected to further strengthen an already dynamic 4x100m line-up, which also includes Kai Selvon, Michelle-Lee Ahye, Reyare Thomas and Kamaria Durant, the same quartet that captured bronze in the women’s 4x100m in 42.66 seconds at the inaugural edition of the World Relays last year.
The women’s 4x100m team, is further boosted with depth with the inclusion of Lisa Wickham. Although it is unlikely, given the tight two-day schedule, the women’s team can still form a 4x200m team from the six-athlete pool.
Unlike last year, the women runners are tentatively scheduled to compete in only one other race, the 4x400m and will not provide a 4x800m team. National women’s 400m record holder Janeil Bellille and hurdles specialist Josanne Lucas will join Ramona Modeste, Alena Brooks and Magnolia Howell to complete the women’s 4x400m team, which will aim for an improved showing from last year’s disappointing 12th place.
Meanwhile, the T&T men will feature in three events compared to the two races last year.
The pool of athletes for the 4x100m and 4x200m relays includes the same combination of Marc Burns, Keston Bledman, Rondell Sorrillo and Richard Thompson, who captured the 4x100m silver at last year’s event in 38.04 seconds, behind the Jamaican star-studded line-up of Nesta Carter, Nickel Ashmeade, Julian Forte and Yohan Blake, who clocked 37.77. The same four T&T 4x100m runners have been particularly active and in good form heading into the competition.
The T&T 4x100m/4x200m pool also includes first time entrants, Marcus Duncan, Emmanuel Callender and Kyle Greaux. Greaux is also listed for the T&T 4x400m pool, along with Jacob St Clair.
As with the 4x100m team, the 4x400m team involves all the starting runners who broke the national record at the World Relays last year. Lalonde Gordon, Renny Quow, Machel Cedenio and Jarrin Solomon captured bronze for T&T in that race in two minutes, 58.34 seconds, behind USA (2:57.25) and Bahamas (2:57.59). As expected, T&T will be without 2014 Bowerman Award winner and indoor 400m national record holder, Deon Lendore, given his college and NCAA commitments. However, the national team will likely benefit from Lendore’s legs at the World Championships in August.
The travelling staff includes Dexter Voisin (manager), Dr Ian Hypolite, Charles Joseph (coaches) Dr Anyl Gopeesingh, Zephyrinus Nicholas and Verne Alleyne (medical staff).
At the inaugural World Relays, T&T placed fourth overall out of 43 participating nations in the medal count, and sixth in the points standings with 19 points, behind USA (60), Jamaica (41), Kenya (35), Great Britain (24) and Australia (21).
Both the men and women’s 4x100m teams, as well as the men’s 4x400m relay teams qualified for August’s IAAF World Championships after their performances at last year’s World Relays.
This year’s event will serve as a qualifying stage for the 2016 Summer Olympics in the 4x100 and 4×400 metres relays with the top eight placed teams in both sealing automatic qualification.