Track Trio Earns Olympic Berths in Trinidad
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad - Lolo Jones was not the only LSU Track & Field alum to earn an Olympic berth on Saturday afternoon as sprinters Richard Thompson, Kelly-Ann Baptiste and Semoy Hackett each booked their trip to London with Trinidad & Tobago in the 100-meter dash with their effort at the Sagicor National Open Championships at Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Baptiste captured her sixth 100-meter title in eight seasons at the Sagicor National Open Championships as the most decorated sprinter in her nation's history while sprinting to the finish line in 10.98 seconds in the final ahead of Hackett's silver-medal winning run of 11.14 for second place.
Auburn's Kai Selvon finished well behind the Lady Tiger duo for third place with her time of 11.24 as each punched their ticket to London for the 2012 Olympic Games.
Baptiste, the reigning World Championships bronze medalist, is an Olympics gold-medal contender as the world's No. 2-ranked 100-meter sprinter in 2012. She clocked a seasonal best of 10.86 in winning the title at the Jamaican Invitational back on May 5. Her personal record of 10.84 is a national record for Trinidad & Tobago that was set during the 2010 campaign in her second season as a professional.
Like Baptiste, Hackett will represent her country at the Olympic Games for the second time for her career as she made her Olympics debut in Beijing in 2008. Hackett is already qualified for the 200-meter dash as she has shattered the Olympics "A" qualifying standard with her national record of 22.55 set this season.
While Hackett will not run the 200 meters during Sunday's finale at the Sagicor National Open Championships, Baptiste will run for an Olympics qualifier as she has yet to post a wind-legal time in 2012.
After both Baptiste and Hackett earned an Olympic berth in the women's 100-meter final, Thompson had a seasonal-best performance in the men's final to wrap up Saturday's action while breaking the 10-second barrier with a 9.96 clocking. Thompson saw his run of three-straight 100-meter gold medals at the Sagicor National Open Championships come to an end as Keston Bledman took the title in 9.86. Also securing his spot on Trinidad's Olympic team was bronze medalist Rondel Sorrillo in 10.03.
Thompson looks to be rounding into form as he now turns his attention to preparation for the Olympics as he entered the weekend with a previous seasonal best of 10.09. He had only run in three 100-meter dashes prior to Saturday's competition while battling a series of injuries in 2012.
With his performance, Thompson cracked the Top 10 of the world rankings this season as his time of 9.96 tied him for the No. 7 spot. Bledman's 9.86 ranks No. 4 worldwide for the 2012 season.
Tiger sophomore Shermund Allsop enjoyed a career-best performance in the men's 100-meter dash on the first day of competition at the Sagicor National Open Championships as he clocked back-to-back times of 10.29 in the semifinal and final rounds en route to an eighth-place finish overall in the event.
Allsop set his previous PR of 10.38 in the NCAA quarterfinal at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds held in Jacksonville, Fla., on May 25. He also set his 200-meter PR of 20.71 in the national quarterfinal during the collegiate season as he will join Thompson in the event during Sunday's finale in Port-of-Spain.
Senior teammate Ade Alleyne-Forte set a personal best of his own on Saturday afternoon en route to sixth place in the 400-meter final. After running 47.73 for second place in the third preliminary heat, Alleyne-Forte raced to the finish line in the one-lap race with a personal best 46.13 for sixth place in the final as he trailed Lalonde Gordon (45.40), Renny Quow (45.60), Deon Lendore (45.74), Jarrin Solomon (45.88) and Machel Cedenio (46.02) in the championship final of the 400 meters.
That performance will likely earn Alleyne-Forte consideration to Trinidad & Tobago's 4x400-meter relay pool making the trip to London for the Olympic Games in August.
Fellow senior All-American Kyron Blaise won the men's long jump crown during Saturday's action as he wrapped up the title with a series-best mark of 25 feet, ½ inch on his sixth and final attempt to outdistance the mark of 24-8 ½ by silver medalist Leon Hunt of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Blaise is poised to add the triple jump title on Sunday afternoon as he will step onto the runway with a PR of 54-1 ¼ in the event while needing the Olympic "B" qualifying standard of 55-3 ½.
In addition, former LSU All-American Jamaal James advanced to Sunday's 800-meter final after winning the first qualifying heat on Saturday with a time of 1 minute, 54.41 seconds. James, who boasts a seasonal best of 1:46.88 is seeking at least the Olympic "B" qualifying standard of 1:46.30 on Sunday. With a time of 1:54.41 in the opening round, James advanced to the final as the second-fastest qualifier.