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Brath feels ‘pretty good’

Sherrylyn A. Toppin

Brath feels ‘pretty good’

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THOUSANDS?OF?Barbadians felt the pain when defending world champion Ryan Brathwaite did  not make it back to last year’s final of the men’s  110-metre hurdles in Daegu, South Korea.
Grateful for the support a few hundred showed when they turned out to see him run last Saturday during the National Track and Field Championships at the National Stadium, Brathwaite, 24, urged Barbadians to keep supporting him and the other athletes.
“I feel pretty good about it,” he said, of the numbers in the stands.
“It is very supportive. I just want them to keep supporting me and keep supporting the others  in the race, to just get everybody hyped about it.”
Brathwaite had just posted yet another Olympic “A” qualifying standard of 13.39 seconds, and Greggmar Swift, who was following in his wake, also lowered  his time to the “A” mark of 13.52 seconds. Shane Brathwaite, who had qualified earlier, was third  in 13.63 seconds.
Final crosswind
Brathwaite said he ran about 50 per cent in the semis to work on his form. His time was 13.52 seconds, but with a headwind of about -2.7 metres per second, he converted that closer to 13.2.
In the final, crosswinds also affected the race,  but he was satisfied.
“It’s going well,” he said, of the season. “I still  have bursitis on the back of the heel, so I am just taking it easy.”
While Barbadians are concerned that he is yet  to dip into the 13.1s or even get his first sub-12 clocking, Brathwaite said he wasn’t worried.
“I feel pretty great. Everybody is going to run their fast times and then go into the [Olympic] Games sluggish, so I’m not too worried about the times  right now. I am just worried about keeping it there  and to continue going there.”
It will be his second trip to the Olympic Games. He reached the semi-finals in Beijing.
Shane, a former world youth octathlon champion, settled on the sprint hurdles. He was happy for Swift, but a bit disappointed with his time. His best time this season is 13.46, done twice, one of them wind-aided,  as well as a wind-aided 13.43.
“The semi-finals were pretty comfortable. I was just trying to work on staying clean. In the final, I wasn’t very clean at all. I saw Ryan and Greggmar ahead and I started to panic, but you learn from experiences,”  the 22-year-old said.
“I hit a hurdle in the middle, but the start was good. I need to stay relaxed in the middle and try to finish.”
He left on Monday to return to Texas Tech  and should be back in training today or tomorrow.
“I’m just going to continue with what I am doing, working on the different parts of my race,” he said.
While the two Brathwaites are just about where they should be at this stage, for Swift, 21, this was  a plan which came together at the right moment.
Swift, a sophomore at Indian State University, was soaking up the atmosphere as Barbadians celebrated in the stands. Even the officials looked pleased and offered their congratulations.
“It is just a great feeling,” Swift said, adding  that he expected the results.
Motivating factor
“My freshman year in college, I was hurt, but I still came home and I ran 13.84. So I just used that as motivation. This year, I won some very good races.  I won Drake Relays, I won the Missouri Valley Conference and all of this just kept boosting my small ego – it is not getting too big, though – and giving  me great motivation to just come home in front  of Barbados and give them a performance  of a lifetime.”
Swift hit the “B” standard twice, but admitted there were doubts during the season even as he advanced  to the semi-finals of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division One Championships.
“Unlike me, my coach [John McNichols] had this planned already. He knew I was going to qualify  for the Olympic Games and I was a little bit doubtful because time was coming down to a cutting edge  and I just qualified at the last minute,” he said.
“I was questioning coach, asking him if we are doing the correct thing, but in the end, I have faith in my coach and I’m going back to Indiana State University and keep on doing what we are doing, chopping down on this time.”