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Boldon preserving St Fort for the big races

Published: 
Friday, September 9, 2016
Khalifa St Fort

Four time Olympic medalist Ato Boldon says he will be making amendments to his coaching programme for protégé Khalifa St Fort after injuries interrupted her progress this year. 

The 18-year-old St Fort won a bronze in the 100m at the IAAF World Under 20 Championships in July but reportedly aggravated her hamstring during the last 20m of the event. Managing to recover in time for the Rio Olympics, she helped T&T place fifth in the women’s 4x100m final.

Looking ahead to the 2017 competitive season, Boldon said that preserving her body would be his top priority.

“There are certain things that I as a young coach am looking at that I want to eliminate and certain things I want to add so training will not look the way it did this year, but that’s a good thing,” he said. “My biggest thing next year is to keep her healthy. I think after having an almost perfect year in 2015, in terms of injuries, we didn’t do a good job of keeping her healthy this year, so that’s on me as the coach and that’s my big focus for 2017.”

St Fort set a new national junior record of 11.16 during the Olympic team trials in June though Boldon felt she would have been within reach of the 11-second barrier had she remained injury free this year.

“The way sprinting goes is that it looked like she was on her way to running, I think, under 11 seconds. If not, then very close to it. Then she had a hamstring injury which we had to manage for the rest of the year.”

However, he did take satisfaction in her new record.

“It’s something that we’re very proud of because it was not a perfect year for her and there were a lot of ups and downs.”

Boldon added that the American-born St Fort, who was born to a Trinidadian mother, had little trouble settling in T&T.

“She is spending a lot of time here. She’s more at home here than she is in the States. We heard the occasional comment about her being foreign-born but nobody who has ever been around Khalifa would say that. She is as Trini as they come.”

Meanwhile, sprinter Richard Thompson and Boldon have parted ways following Thompson’s disappointing showing at the Olympic Games in Rio in August, after a year-long relationship. 

Thompson, 31, was eliminated during the preliminary round of the 100 metres in Rio, finishing sixth in Heat 7 in 10.29s, well off his personal best of 9.82. Boldon began coaching Thompson, the 2008 Olympics 100-metre silver medalist, in August 2015.

Thompson was trying to revive his career that had gone south after he won the silver medal in the 100m in 2008 in a race won by Usain Bolt in 9.69s. But following his failed comeback bid in Rio, Thompson has decided that it was time to move on from the Boldon’s camp.

“Richard and I had a lengthy discussion,” said Boldon, during an interview on the Morning Brew show.

“Richard and I have been friends for a long time and I have been his mentor for some time. He just feels like he has to move on.”

Boldon, who over the past year also had Trinidadian Kelly-Ann Baptiste and spent time working with American quarter-miler Natasha Hastings in his camp, said Thompson’s decision to move on was based primarily on the amount of time, he (Boldon) was spending with St Fort.

“I think we were honest about how much attention Khalifa gets in the camp,” Boldon admitted.

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