Belle’s the first
Tia-Adana Belle hurdled her way into local track and field history when she became the first Barbadian female to win a world championship medal at any level.
Belle won silver in the 400-metre hurdles in a personal best 58.42 seconds yesterday at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Donetsk, Ukraine.
World leader Helene Swanepoel of South Africa won the gold in 58.08 and Germany’s Lisa-Marie Jacoby bronze, also in a personal best 58.75.
The 17-year-old Ellerton, St George resident joins Shane Brathwaite, who won gold at the 2007 edition in the octathlon in the Czech Republic and Ryan Brathwaite who took silver in the 110-metre hurdles in Morocco in 2005.
It is also Barbados’ first world-class medal since Ryan Brathwaite was crowned world champion in Berlin four years ago.
Belle, a former student of Christ Church Foundation School and The St Michael School, won a bronze medal at the CARIFTA Games this year in the same event. She also has two silver medals in the 4×400 metres relay, and two silver (400m and 400m) from last year’s Central American and Caribbean Junior Championships.
“Well, it feels kind of weird that I am second in the world, but I love it, I can’t complain,” Belle told SUNSPORT in an interview yesterday.
“I was nervous, very nervous. I was shaking and stuff, thinking about the race all the time and watching my previous races.”
Belle went into the final with the fastest qualifying time of 58.81 seconds.
She was leading for the first 250 metres, but appeared to get into some difficulty at the seventh and eighth barriers. Swanepoel and the two Germans, Jacoby and Eileen Demes who was fourth in a personal best 58.92, all began to pull ahead.
“I had a great start and the first couple of hurdles went well. I was in lane six so I was blind (could not see the others). I used the Jamaican girl [Andrenette Knight in lane eight], but in the turn I messed up and it caused me some time. But coming home, I was just telling myself to run ‘you have to medal’ and I just ran,” she said.
“I am not usually so good in the last turn, something I must work on, but I saw the German [Jacoby] and I was determined not to let her beat me.”
The silver medal has also kept the mood high in the Barbados camp where everyone was “happy, proud and excited”.
Mario Burke was fifth in the final of the 100 metres and might have been among the medals if he hadn’t picked up a hamstring strain in the semi-finals.
“I want to thank my coach [Michael ‘Fatman’ Linton], my family for backing me and my community Ellerton for always being there,” Belle said. “A big thanks goes to Mr [Adrian] Thorne (team coach) for everything over the last two weeks.”
Her next big assignment will be the Pan American Junior Championships next month in Colombia.