BVI Women’s 4x100m relay in top 16 at IAAF World Relays

By: Dean Greenaway

Ashley Kelly, left, Nelda Huggins, Chantel Malone and Karene King became the BVI's first athletes to compete in Nassau, Bahamas at the IAAF World Relays. PHOTO: Dean "The Sportsman" Greenaway

Ashley Kelly, left, Nelda Huggins, Chantel Malone and Karene King became the BVI’s first athletes to compete in Nassau, Bahamas at the IAAF World Relays. Photo credit: Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway

NASSAU, The Bahamas — The British Virgin Islands Women’s 4x100m Relay team ran the second fastest time in the territory’s history to reach the B final of the inaugural IAAF World Relays here in Nassau, The Bahamas and finished in the top 16.

Knowing just before they left that Tahesia Harrigan-Scott would not be joining them after pulling out of a race in Beijing, China on Wednesday with slight discomfort, the trio of Ashley Kelly, Chantel Malone, and Karene King, knew they’d have to help National Youth and National Jr. 100/200m sprinter Nelda Huggins at 17, one of the youngest women in the competition.

With only one day’s practice, they got the stick around and finished the semi final in 44.53 seconds just off the 44.34 national mark established in 2010 as the territory haven’t had many opportunities to field a senior squad in competition. In the B final, they placed seventh in 45.06 and all shared that it was a good experience.

“I wasn’t surprised that we made the B final because I knew we could come in here, handle business and definitely be in the top 16,” lead off leg, Kelly said. “We came together as a team. We motivated each other and I think we showed our maturity by embracing Nelda and she showed her maturity in handling business. I think that was important for us as a team to come together and embrace her and help her to learn.”

King, who anchored the squad described the meet as exciting. “I thought it was important for us making BVI history as the first 4x100m team to be at the IAAF World Relays,” she said. “As a small country, it shows that we can handle business at any time. We ran the second fastest time in our history and it was just a great experience.”

Malone who ran third leg said she thought the team held its own with Nelda coming in and learning the importance of unity and practicing. Since they don’t’ get an opportunity to be together often, the hand off was a challenge.

“If not a second (off our time) who knows, because I feel that once we get hand offs down pat, we can be much better,” she said. “Coming into this meet, we didn’t have one of the times that people would really look at and say we should watch out for them. I feel that even though we might be an underdog, we just have to stick to what we know and try to execute. We are a small country, but still could be a factor. We showed that today because nobody expected us to get to the B final, even though it was just the B. We had the slowest national record in our heat but we came out, worked as a team and brought it home.”

Huggins who will enter U20 competition next year said it was an experience that taught her she can’t play around. “It’s not like running with the U18s. These girls are serious,” she noted. “I took in a lot. It was fun being around the team, they are always joking and I learned a lot from them.”