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Medgar Evers’s Baird eyes the Olympics

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Kadecia Baird hopes her first taste of international competition won’t be her last.

In late March, the Medgar Evers track star represented her native Guyana in her first-ever Carifta Games in the Bahamas, which feature amateur athletes from Caribbean nations. Baird, the best 400-meter runner in the United States, even got to carry the Guyanese flag for the opening ceremony.

“It was an honor to walk in with my flag, representing my country,” the unsigned senior said. “Not many people get that opportunity.”

Baird now has her sights set on a grander stage.

She said she is running for Guyana at the World Championship in Moscow from August 10–18 to get herself ready for a push to join her homeland’s 2016 Olympic team in Rio de Janiero. The more experience she gets, the better.

“It will open me up to running against people twice as old as me, and that’s going to make me ready to run in the Olympics,” Baird said. “I’m hoping I can do it in 2016.”

She nearly made it in 2012 after running the Olympic B standard qualifying time of 52.14 seconds — the best by any Guyanese female that year — but Baird missed out because the nation had already chosen three-time-Olympian Ailann Pompey to compete that year, based on her time of 51.66 seconds from July of 2011.

Baird is still rounding into form early in the outdoor season. She finished third in the Under-20 400-meters at the Carifta Games with a time of 54.28 seconds in her first outdoor race of the season.

Baird followed that up by winning the event at the Mayor’s Cup on Saturday in 55.12 seconds and taking home the 200-meter crown with a time of 24.17 seconds.

She had hoped to be closer to her personal best of 51.04 seconds, but the extreme change in weather from the Bahamas to New York didn’t help, and she hasn’t been training with the intensity she would like. But Baird was still glad she got to test herself in international competition to begin to prepare herself for the Olympics.

“I’m happy to have the experience so I can know what international feels like when I have to compete,” Baird said.

Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at jstaszewski@cnglocal.com. Follow him on twitter @cng_staszewski.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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