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UPCOMING OLYMPIC GAMES

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Source: www.trinidadexpress.com By Kwame Laurence in New Delhi

100m bronze for ArmstrongAaron Armstrong followed in the footsteps of an esteemed group of Trinidad and Tobago sprinters when he struck bronze in the Commonwealth Games men's 100 metres dash, at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, here in New Delhi, India, yesterday.

Armstrong became only the sixth person from T&T to secure a Commonwealth 100 medal, when he crossed the line in 10.24 seconds, edging teammate Emmanuel Callender (10.25) into fourth spot.

Way back in 1954, Mike Agostini grabbed gold for T&T in the 100 yards. Twelve years later, Edwin Roberts earned bronze in the same event. Hasely Crawford claimed 100m bronze in 1970 and again in 1978. Ato Boldon emerged as Commonwealth Games sprint champion at the 1998 Games. And four years ago, Marc Burns bagged 100m bronze.

"Means a lot," Armstrong told the Express, "to come out here and represent Trinidad and Tobago, for all the support that they give us. And to be in the same category as those guys is truly a blessing, because I look up to Hasely Crawford, even my dad (former T&T sprinter Ainsley Armstrong) and everybody that's paved the way for us."

Jamaica's Lerone Clarke won impressively, stopping the clock at 10.12 seconds for a comfortable cushion on Englishman Mark Lewis-Francis, the silver medallist in 10.20.

"This is my biggest victory," Clarke declared. "Commonwealth Games is a big competition, and this is my debut meet running the 100 metres for Jamaica, so I'm proud to actually be the Commonwealth champion. I came into the race with confidence. I ran all my phases right and all my rounds right, and was able to deliver."

Though pleased to be among the top three, Armstrong was disappointed about the colour of his medal.

"The expectation was to win. For this year the goal was to be ready for Commonwealth. I was set up for a big one, but had a little tangle up with the guy from Canada (Sam Effah). We locked arms…it threw me off because my strong point is the end of the race."

In the semi-final round, Armstrong displayed his finishing power, coming from behind to win heat one in 10.14 seconds, the same time recorded by second-placed Clarke.

Callender won the second heat, also in 10.14, ahead of Effah (10.16) and Lewis-Francis (10.17). In the championship race, however, Callender was slow to react to the gun, leaving himself with too much to do. The T&T sprinter battled to the line, but came up just short, Armstrong beating him by one-hundredth of a second.

Callender is listed to compete in the 200m as well and should be among the contenders for precious metal. He also has a good shot at medalling in the 4x100m relay.

"The 100 is a little more stress," said Armstrong, "a little more tension. When the relays come it's time to have fun. We're going to go out there, give it our best, and the plan is to win a gold and bring it back home to Trinidad."

Ayanna Hutchinson bowed out in the women's 100m semis.

The experienced T&T sprinter enjoyed a good start, and looked to be in a battle for the second spot and an automatic berth in the final. But Hutchinson tied up badly in the latter stages of the race, and had to settle for fourth in 11.58 seconds. The clocking was not good enough to secure qualification as a "fastest loser".

In the final, Nigeria's Osayemi Oludamola struck gold in 11.32 seconds. Vincentian Natasha Mayers (11.37) earned silver and England's Katherine Endacott (11.44) bronze.

Australia's Sally Pearson actually crossed the line first but was later disqualified after a false start review determined that she had jumped the gun the first time the sprinters left the blocks, and should not have faced the starter a second time.

Laura Turner was disqualified for the false start, but the England athlete ran under protest. As it turned out, both Turner and Pearson jumped the gun, the referee's decision to disqualify the "race winner"--following an English protest--cutting short the Australian's celebrations.

T&T athletes Lalonde Gordon and Ayanna Alexander will be on show at the Nehru Stadium today. Gordon runs way out in lane nine in the third and final men's 400m semi-final heat, while Alexander bids for precious metal in the women's triple jump.

In yesterday's one-lap preliminaries, Gordon clocked 47.07 seconds to finish third in heat five, advancing automatically to the semis.