BATON ROUGE – Former Lady Tiger national champion and new 2013 world leader Kelly-Ann Baptiste set two Trinidad & Tobago national records while sweeping women’s 100-meter and 200-meter titles at the Sagicor National Open Championships as was the star of the meet held this past weekend at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port-of-Spain.
Baptiste will be joined on Trinidad & Tobago’s World Championship team by former Tiger national champion Richard Thompson as the former Olympic silver medalist qualified in the men’s 100 meters.
Moscow, Russia, will play host to the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Athletics from Aug. 10-18 as the world’s greatest athletes will be competing in the biennial event.
Baptiste, the reigning World Championships bronze medalist in the women’s 100-meter dash, has her sights set on the medal podium again this year after sprinting to a world-leading personal best of 10.83 seconds for her seventh 100-meter title in nine seasons at her country’s Sagicor National Open Track & Field Championships.
The Zenith, Tobago, athlete was never challenged as she took the tape in 10.83 by more than two tenths of a second ahead of silver medalist Michelle Lee-Ahye (11.06) and bronze medalist Kai Selvon (11.06).
This year’s NCAA champion and newly-crowned U.S. champion English Gardner held the world lead for no more than a day after winning the women’s 100-meter crown at the USA Outdoor Championships on Friday in a seasonal best of 10.85 to tie fellow American Barbara Pierre at the top of the world list for 2013. But Baptiste surpassed their effort with her national record of 10.83 on Saturday night.
Baptiste, who qualified for the 100-meter final with times of 11.10 in Friday’s opening round and 11.01w in Saturday’s semifinal round, bested her own national record of 10.84 she set three seasons ago during the 2010 season. She entered the weekend with a seasonal best of 11.06 set at the Jamaica Invitational in Kingston on May 4 of last month.
The 2008 NCAA 100-meter champion is certainly among the world’s elite as the World Championships bronze medalist in 2011 and Olympic finalist a year ago when she finished in sixth place at the London Games.
Baptiste then returned to the track for Sunday’s finale at Hasely Crawford Stadium and again smashed her own Trinidad & Tobago national record in the 200-meter dash with a Top 5 time in the world rankings for 2013.
After running a wind-legal 22.63 (+0.7) to win her semifinal heat earlier in the day, Baptiste turned on the jets in the final to claim the Trinidad & Tobago 200-meter title by more than six tenths of a second with a PR run of 22.36 (+0.3) to break her own mark of 22.60 set during the 2009 season. Baptiste struck gold in the event ahead of Semoy Hackett (22.98) in second place and Selvon (23.05) in third place.
While Baptiste is now set to make her third career World Championships appearance in the 100 meters, she is qualified to run the 200 meters in the event for the second time as one of the world’s premier performers.
Thompson, the 2008 NCAA 100-meter champion on the men’s side during his collegiate career with the Tigers, will represent Trinidad & Tobago at the World Championships for the fourth time in his career after scoring the silver medal with a second-place finish in the men’s 100-meter final on the Friday night at the Sagicor National Open Championships.
The Baton Rouge-based sprinter saw improvement in his performance with each round after sprinting to the finish line in 10.39 (+1.5) in the first round on Friday and 10.07w (+2.7) in the semifinal round on Saturday en route to the final on Saturday night. That’s when Thompson turned in his fastest 100 meters of the season with a wind-aided 9.91 (+3.2) for a runner-up finish in the event.
Defending champion Keston Bledman nipped Thompson at the finish line by a split second with a winning run of 9.86w to retain his title and also earn his trip to the World Championships.
Thompson will line up in the 100 meters at the World Championships for the fourth time in his sprinting career as he owns a career-best fifth-place finish in the world final at the 2009 event in Berlin, Germany. He’s also a two-time 100-meter semifinalist at the World Championships with his performance in Osaka, Japan, in 2007 and Daegu, South Korea, in 2011.
Thompson already owns the distinction as the most decorated Olympian in the history of LSU athletics regardless of sport as a three-time medalist on the world’s grandest stage. Thompson took a pair of Olympic silver medals in the 100 meters and 4x100-meter relay in his debut in Beijing, China, in 2008 before winning a bronze medal in the 4x100-meter relay in London, England, last summer.
Two other former LSU All-Americans also won event titles at the Sagicor National Open Championships this past weekend as Jamaal James defended his crown in the men’s 800 meters in 1 minute, 49.22 seconds in the final and Kyron Blaise won the men’s long jump title with a top wind-aided mark of 25 feet, 10 inches (+2.1) on his second attempt.