The Athletic section of the Olympic Games opened today and for the first time a Belizean athlete will run in the semi-finals of an Olympic track and field event.
He is Kenneth Medwood - and if you're not familiar with the name, it's because he is a 24 year old Belizean American - who was born in Belize City in 1987.
He has represented Belize at a number of International track and field events and he was the flag bearer for the Belize delegation at the Olympic opening ceremony.
And now, he's the first Belizean runner to advance to the semifinal of any event.
We'll show you his race shortly - but today's excitement started early in the morning with Kiana Martinez. She's the Seine Byte resident who participated in the women's preliminary heat for the hundred meters this morning in London.
The preliminary round is like a wild card round for those trying to earn a berth into the first round.
The race started at ten minutes to four this morning in Belize and it was aired live right here on on Channel 7.
Here's the race call as they lined up for Heat Two of the preliminaries:..
kaina medwood 1 from 7News Belize on Vimeo.
With that second place finish she advanced to the first round. Her time of 11.81 seconds was her best for the season, but still slower than her personal best of 11.64.
And she'd need her personal best and better as she headed into round one - populated by women who can run the 100 in less than 11.20 seconds.
That's the big leagues - and that race was run eight hours later - at 7:30 London time which was 12:30 pm in Belize.
Here's how it went...
kaina medwood 2 from 7News Belize on Vimeo.
You saw it correctly. Kiana came in dead last in Heat number seven with a time of 11.89 seconds - slower than her run in the preliminaries. Not a glorious end, but the first Belizean woman to advance out of the preliminary round.
And so then it was unto the four hundred meters hurdles for men. That's Kenneth MEdwood's event, and here's how that race went.
They ran at about 4:15 am this morning, Belize time:
kaina medwood 3 from 7News Belize on Vimeo.
With his time of 49.78 seconds Medwood just made it into the semi-finals of the 400 meter hurdles. He becomes the first Belizean male to make it into the semifinals of any event.
He will run in the second heat tomorrow night, which will start at around noon Belize time tomorrow. As with all the Olympic coverage, you'll be able to see it right here on Channel 7.
Kaina Martinez runs proudly for Belize in Olympic Trial
For a moment this morning there was a glimmer of hope that Belize would make it big in female track and field at London 2012. Of the three athletes competing for the jewel, Kenneth Medwood will be competing in track and field semi-finals this Saturday while Eddermys Sanchez was eliminated on Sunday in judo in nineteen seconds by Hungarian Miklos Ungvari. But this morning homegrown Kaina Martinez placed second in the qualify one hundred meter race. While it didn’t turn out as sweet as we had hoped, Martinez says it has been her dream to be an Olympian. Here is her story with News Five’s Delahnie Bain.
Delahnie Bain, Reporting
From early this morning, all eyes were on Belizean athlete Kaina Martinez who competed in the hundred meter sprint at the Olympics in London. Clocking in at eleven point eight-one seconds, Kaina placed second in her in heat in the qualifying race and moved on round one. She didn’t qualify for the semi-finals, but accomplished a first for Belizeans competing in athletics.
Via Phone: Kaina Martinez, Belizean Athlete
“Overall, I feel pretty good overall. On the other side, being the fact that I wanted to do a personal best makes me feel kinda not disappointed but kinda bad. But when I ran the whole event and stuff like that I think I did a great job. So I’ll just look at the positive and remind myself that, despite the fact that I didn’t make the time that I want to, I have done a good job.”
Via Phone: Sonny Meighan, Chief of Mission, Belize Olympic Delegation
“This morning athletics were opened, the track events. Kaina did a first for Belize. She qualified in her heat, she came second in her heat and qualified to go on to her first heat this evening at seven o’clock [Midday local time]. She lost the heat, she got eliminated and so she is out of the competition now. But she did very well, she ran against some very stiff competition and she was a bit disappointed of course, we all were, but she’s in high spirits right now and she has said she will continue training and represent us proudly again.
Like the rest of the country, Kaina’s mother, Gorgia Alvarez, was watching her on TV in Seine Bight and is proud of her performance.
Via Phone: Gorgia Alvarez, Mother of Kaina Martinez
“I was more than happy because I got so many calls from people, calling me and telling me they wish her good luck.”
“And so what has it been like for her, as her mom, working with her and getting her to the stage that she is now?”
Via Phone: Gorgia Alvarez
“Well, I will tell her to keep on trying; maybe one day she might be lucky to win.”
Via Phone: Kaina Martinez
“It’s an awesome experience. I mean words can really describe honestly how I feel being here and being a part of the competition. I just think it’s an awesome experience. For me, personally, it’s like I have done it because this is what I wanted; to be an Olympian. So that itself is awesome to me and the experience and the huge crowd that you get to see in the stadium is like wow.”
But it’s not over for Team Belize. Kenneth Medwood also competed this morning in the four hundred meter hurdles and finished with a time of forty-nine point eight-one seconds. Medwood is moving on to the semi-finals and will compete over the weekend.
Via Phone: Sonny Meighan
“Kenneth Medwood also qualified to the second round; he ran this morning. He is going to run again tomorrow, Saturday at seven o’clock in the evening. So he’s our hurdler. He’s running against some real world champions who I’ve known from two Olympics ago, including Felix Sanchez from the Dominican Republic who is a world champion, Olympic champion. But we’re hoping that he does well tomorrow. We’re proud of them, they did very well. This is Olympic Games where the best in the world are here and they went onto another round. A lot of countries didn’t even go on to the second round like they did; some big countries. But yes, we’re proud of them and we’re hoping that they continue to run because they’re both very good runners.”
Looking into the future, Kaina says Belizean athletes can bring home medals if the investment is made in training them.
Via Phone: Kaina Martinez
“Belize has a lot of talent; it’s just a matter of exploring those talents and giving the youths the opportunity to excel beyond. You know, we have a lot of talent home, I don’t think that anyone here has so much of a talent that Belize doesn’t have, it’s just a matter that they have put more into getting their athletes ready you know. So we have a lot of talent, it’s just a matter of us giving that opportunity to excel more and beyond.”
Delahnie Bain for News Five.
The Belize delegation returns on August thirteenth.