V.I.'s Peter, Jones compete in 100 meters today
Published: August 3, 2012
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LONDON - Words used by U.S. Virgin Islands track and field coach Nathan Taylor to describe Allison Peter on the eve of her Olympic debut: "cool," "calm" and "collected."
Not the typical description of a reserved 20-year-old who has spent the last week rubbing elbows with the best track and field athletes from around the world.
"Allison is a very focused competitor," Taylor said after Peter's pre-meet workout Thursday afternoon. "It's hard to be a 20-year-old and not be impressed by all of this. Star-struck? I wouldn't go that far. She knows she belongs here."
Later tonight, Peter will finally get a chance to take on some of the international track stars she has only read about or seen on television.
Peter and USVI veteran sprinter Laverne Jones-Ferrette will both compete tonight in Round 1 of the 100-meter sprint at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
The territory's top female speedsters each posted "A" qualifying standards before the Games, so they won't have to run in any of the four preliminary heats, which are scheduled for this morning.
The top four preliminary times will advance to Round 1, where Peter, Jones-Ferrette and 46 of the other top sprinters in the world await.
"It's similar to the Junior World Championships for me but just on a whole new level," said Peter, who is a rising junior at Texas University and one of the youngest athletes to ever represent the USVI at the Olympics.
If Peter or Jones-Ferrette, a three-time Olympian, can finish among the Top 3 in their respective Round 1 heats tonight then they will move on to Saturday's semifinals, which are scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
There will be three semifinal heats, and then the top eight times overall will move on to the 100-meter finals at 4:55 p.m. on Saturday.
Each USVI sprinter will have Sunday off and then both will compete in Round 1 of the 200-meter event on Monday.
"It's rare when I run in the 100 and 200 in a single day at a normal meet," Peter said. "But this past week, I have trained and prepared mentally for both races."
The weather could play a factor. Peter admitted that she likes to run in the heat and under the sun. Like any island athlete, the hotter the better.
London has experienced on-again, off-again rain showers this week and Peter has had some trouble adjusting to the chilly temperatures.
"It won't be the coldest place I have ever raced but I have made adjustments," she said. "I haven't checked the forecast for race day because I don't want to get caught up in it. What ever happens, I'm going to race. Period."
Race lineups for today's Round 1 heats will not be announced until after preliminary heats conclude in the morning. There is always a chance Peter and Jones-Ferrette could be matched up in the same heat somewhere along the way, but Taylor said event directors try to avoid it.
"The 100 meters is probably the most popular race in women's track and field right now," said Taylor, who is the head track and field coach at Cornell University and is the USVI record holder in the decathlon. "Everyone will be watching, and there will plenty of athletes from America, Jamaica and the Bahamas involved in this event. These guys try their best to split up athletes from the same country."
It's been a breakout year for Peter, a St. Croix native who graduated from Educational Complex.
While at Texas this past year, Peter set personal best times in five events in outdoor and indoor competition. She also won a silver medal in the 200 meters at the North America-Central America and Caribbean Under-23 Championships earlier this summer.
"With Allison, her potential is endless," said Taylor. "Both her and Laverne are so focused right now. I truly think both of them have equal chances of reaching the final."
- Contact sports writer Aaron Gray at 714-9102 or email email@example.com.