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FIERY FINAL

FIERY FINAL

Michelle-Lee Ahye was a satisfied sprinter at the end of the semi-final round of the women’s 100 metres at the World Athletics Championships here in Budapest, Hungary, yesterday.

Ahye exited the event after finishing fifth in the opening semi in 11.18 seconds.

“I’m happy,” the Trinidad and Tobago sprint star told the Express. “Not stressing because I know how my season started. I know what shape I’m in right now so what I just did, those two rounds, I’m satisfied with my accomplishments at this Worlds.”

On Sunday, Ahye clocked a season’s best 11.16 seconds to finish second in her first round heat, progressing to the semis automatically. She followed up with yesterday’s 11.18, her second fastest wind-legal run this season.

Jamaica’s five-time 100m world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won the opening semi in 10.89 seconds, with the other automatic qualifying spot going to American Tamari Davis at 10.98.

Third-placed Eva Swoboda, of Poland clocked 11.01 seconds to advance on time. Great Britain’ Daryll Neita was fourth in 11.03. Ahye and Germany’s Gina Luckenkemper finished in a dead heat for fifth and joint-16th overall.

In the championship race, the much-maligned Sha’Carri Richardson answered her many critics with a blistering run from lane nine, the American bolting to gold in a Championship record 10.65 seconds. Jamaicans Shericka Jackson and Fraser-Pryce bagged silver and bronze, respectively, clocking 10.72 and 10.77.

“I’m here,” a thrilled Richardson declared. “I’m the champion. I told you all. I’m not back, I’m better.”

Jackson was pleased with her second-placed run. “I did a pretty good job tonight. I got silver and I cannot complain.”

Fraser-Pryce, 36, now has a World Athletics Championship 100 bronze to go with her five gold medals in the same event. “What still drives me is that I know I can do more. I just want to make sure that before I close my career I really gave everything I had. I still believe there is more to come, which excites me.”

Ahye’s best individual showing at a World Athletics Championship meet came in 2015 in Beijing, China, the Carenage sprinter finishing fifth in the final in 10.98 seconds. One year later, she was sixth in both the 100 and 200 at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Ahye is hoping to be in Paris, France, next year, running at her fourth Olympics. She said the two 11.1 clockings here in Budapest will serve as a solid platform as she works towards qualification for Paris 2024. “It shows me what shape I’m in and what I need to work on.”

Ahye said the Road to Paris is likely to include the October 20 to November 5 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile as well as indoor races early next year.

“I’m definitely not skipping indoors. Indoors actually helps my body get in rhythm for outdoors. After Pan Am, I’ll probably take two weeks off and then start back, but that’s for my coach to worry about, not me.”

Ahye is usually based in the United States, but has done much of her 2023 preparations in Trinidad. For part of the season, she trained under the guidance of Antonia Burton, who is here in Budapest as part of the Team TTO technical staff.

“Her programme made me run faster,” Ahye declared, “compared to when I went to Europe and ran 11.3. It definitely has been working for me.”

Jereem “The Dream” Richards will be on the National Athletics Centre track at 3 p.m. (T&T time) today, bidding for a top-two finish in the first of three men’s 400m semi-final heats. Only two from each heat will progress automatically to Thursday’s final. Richards will do battle from lane four against seven quarter-milers, including South Africa’s world record holder Wayde van Niekerk.

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