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(SNO) — Saint Lucia is in sight of its first-ever youth Olympic Games medal, as Julien Alfred finished second overall in Stage 1 of the women’s 100m on Friday (Oct. 12) in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The St. Catherine High School (Jamaica) student, a multiple national record holder and the Commonwealth Youth Games women’s 100m champion, ran 11.99 seconds in the girls’ 100m preliminaries at the Parque Polideportivo Roca.
Competing in Heat 5 in Stage 1, Alfred watched as the event favourites turned in subpar performances on a cold afternoon. France’s Pamera Losange (personal best 11.58 seconds) completed the 100m in just 12.13 into a -0.7 meters-per-second headwind in Heat 1. Maria Oulare of Belgium (PB 11.73) ran 12.09 (wind -1.2). And the fastest woman in the field, Nigeria’s Rosemary Chukuma (PB 11.40) ran 12.03 (wind -1.7) to win Heat 3.
Ecuador’s Gabriela Suarez was the first under 12 seconds. Her PB of 11.50 seconds suggested that she should be challenging for a medal, and her time of 11.97 (wind -.3.0!) declared her intention to do just that.
But with the gauntlet thrown down, the bespectacled dynamo from Saint Lucia turned in the second-fastest performance of the stage, running into a headwind of -1.8 m/s.
Medals will be decided on Monday, when Stage 2 will see all of the athletes competing again. Saint Lucia’s Alfred will go in Heat 5 once again, this time against the other seven fastest girls from Stage 1. The medals will be decided on the combination of results from Stages 1 and 2, putting Alfred in pole position to capture one of the top three overall spots, if she can replicate or even approximate her performance from Friday.
Speaking after the opening round, Alfred said: “I am very positive, no pressure. I am going in there confident. I am going in there hoping to win my heat, and come out with a better time.”
The reigning Commonwealth Youth Games champion, however, was not thrilled about her performance, saying that she could and should have done better.
She explained: “Except for the time, I am not pleased with my execution in the race. My drive phase and my reaction time was very poor. I did not react to the gun as fast as usual. But I get a second chance to go back and better it, so I am looking forward to a faster reaction, and holding my drive phase for at least 14 steps.”
Additional reporting by Sharome Burton, Dominica