At least one Bajan is in and looking to win.
Barbados’ fastest man Mario Burke will have his eyes set on a podium finish in the men’s 100m final at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Outdoor Track and Field Championship tomorrow in Eugene, Oregon.
Yesterday in semi-final heat two, Burke a student of the University of Houston booked his final-eight spot with a superb performance and a new personal best clocking a time of 10.10 seconds with a legal tailwind of 1.2m/s.
That being said, Burke will line up against some of the fastest athletes in the United States of America in the final scheduled for 6. 22 p.m.
Although it will be the first time the 21-year-old competes in an individual event at the championships it is not unfamiliar territory for Burke.
He helped his 4x100m relay team to gold last year and to a silver medal in 2016 and Burke is confident of finishing among the medals.
“The final is going to be interesting. I am coming up against two of my teammates and I also think it will be a fun experience because I run with them every day. I expect nine seconds to win it and I know I can do it and I believe there will be a lot of fast times. I know I can win,” Burke told Barbados TODAY.
“ To reach the final is a great feeling. To know that out of all the runners in the NCAA that I am one of the top eight fastest means a lot. The goal from here now is just to relax as I look towards the final tomorrow and execute to win it.”
He is also grateful to have made it so far after suffering a nagging hamstring injury in the early stages of the season.
“For me personally I had a pretty hard year. I was battling injuries in February and March so to regroup and come back and make the finals is really good. It shows that I am resilient and I can bounce back and for Barbados it shows that anything is possible and that our home athletes can compete with the best.”
He further outlined his preparation plan for tomorrow’s race.
“All year around I was trying to ensure that I remain healthy so I would not get the same injuries again. I wasn’t doing as much work leading up, just trying to remain fit and maintain my body that was my main goal.
Tomorrow all I have to do is remember to remain focused and I will perform well. It is very important for me not to panic and to just relax and power through the finish line.”
Burke, a former student of both Wilkie Cumberbatch and Harrison College and who was the fastest schoolboy of his generation, has attributed some of his success to his days at the National Primary Schools Athletics Championship (NAPSAC) and Barbados Secondary School Athletics Championship (BSSAC).
“I was running for a long time and I already knew the fundamentals. I didn’t have to learn as much like other people. So my coaches from when I first started track and field really helped to develop me into the athlete that I am today. Of course, like most other outstanding Barbadian athletes I came through NAPSAC and BSSAC and that did well to pave the way forward for me.”
The young sprinter said he believes gaining entrance into the college final will help him to land a professional contract and enhance his experience towards qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games.
However fellow Barbadian Anderson Devonish finished sixth in semifinal three of the men’s 400m with a time of 46.45 seconds and will not advance to the final.