Medgar Evers track star Kadecia Baird has chance to run for Guyana in London Olympics
(New York Daily News) - Kadecia Baird is usually a blur on the racetrack. The rising senior from Medgar Evers registered the fastest time in the country when she ran the 400 meters in 52.14 at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals earlier this month.
Yet, when it comes to deciding if she’s going to run for Guyana in the Olympic Games this summer, she’s taken a much more deliberate approach. Baird, who was born in Guyana and lives in Flatbush with her mother and aunt, is grappling with the idea of participating in the London Olympics, which begin on July 27.
“I’m sort of stuck right now,” Baird said. “My goal was always to run in 2016. I didn’t expect this to happen.”
But it did. Her time at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals was so fast it exceeded the Olympic B standard qualifying time of 52.35 needed to gain entrance into the Games. Since no one else from Guyana has reached the qualifying time in the 400, Baird can compete in London if she chooses, according to Medgar Evers track coach Nicole Martial, who competed in the 1996 Olympics for Guyana in the triple jump and is active in the Olympic movement in Guyana.
“It’s pretty exciting that I have this opportunity,” said Baird, who is not a U.S. citizen and therefore cannot run for the U.S. in the Olympics. “This is something that I definitely have to think about. Going out there and competing against people who are a lot older than me — it’s scary stuff. Of course, I can say that at 17, I ran with the pros and went to the Olympics. But I’m not sure what to do at this point.”
Baird, who has drawn interest from a number of the top track colleges, intends to make a decision when she comes back from the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona, Spain, from July 10-15.
Martial, who has advised her to compete in London, would like her to decide earlier so that Guyana can finalize its track team. “You have the opportunity — take it,” Martial said. “Take it and see what it’s about and maybe in 2016 you’ll be even more prepared.”
Another city athlete who could face a similar decision is Cardozo senior Alexis Panisse, who ran the state’s best 600 meter time indoors this season and also shattered the meet record for the 2,000 steeplechase at the Mayor’s Cup.
If the Tennessee-bound Panisse can achieve the Olympic B standard qualifying time of 2:01.30 in the 800 meters, she could represent the Dominican Republic in London. Panisse, who is of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent, will compete in the Central American and Caribbean Junior Championships in San Salvador, El Salvador, from June 28-July 1.
More than a week later, she will also participate in the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona. Panisse, who is representing the Dominican in both competitions, was non-committal when asked if competing in the Olympics is on her to-do list this summer.
“My goal is to ultimately get my times down, to progress,” she said on Tuesday, a day before she flew to El Salvador. “If I can get my times down in El Salvador that would be great, and if I can meet the B standard time in Barcelona that would be a great goal, too.”
Ray James, an assistant track coach at Cardozo, who accompanied her to El Salvador, said she would have to improve her time by three seconds to reach the 800 qualifying time, but that she’d have to “really consider” going to London if she does.
“She probably would have to go run for the Dominican Republic in that case,” he said. “They wouldn’t have anyone else as fast as her running that event.”
Risk-taker: Kerri Gallagher, a former runner from Bishop Kearney, who quit her job as a financial planner to train for the Olympics, qualified for the U.S. Team Trials in the 1500 meters, just beating the B standard time of 4:17.00 by clocking a 4:16.07.
Gallagher, currently in Eugene, Ore., with her event scheduled for Thursday, told the Daily News in May that if she could qualify for the trials, she would consider her career move a success.