Tue | Jan 23, 2018

Bailey battling injuries ... Sprinter predicts Jamaican relay record

Published:Wednesday | January 18, 2017 | 12:00 AMHubert Lawrence

2004 Olympic relay gold medal winner Aleen Bailey is still running and hopes to continue her track and field career once injuries allow her to do so.

Now 36, Bailey is working to regain full fitness and will make her mind up about staying on track in March. Despite all she has achieved, the former Vere Technical High school star feels she has more to give.

Coached now by her former Vere Technical teammate Soyini Thompson, Bailey spoke candidly of her future when asked about possible retirement.

"I haven't decided yet," Bailey responded. "I'm still working out. I haven't decided yet ... I'll make a decision based on how I feel in March."

She and Thompson, who is the head women's track and field coach at Charleston southern University, will be waiting until then to see if a pesky hip injury responds to treatment. That problem is the extension of two years of trouble for the 2001 and 2003 national senior 100m and 200m champion.

"I was in a car accident and I took a year off and I'm getting old", she smiled. "So, last year, I tore my hamstring and that took a while. That's why we're trying to figure out if the hip doesn't start feeling better."

If she makes her March fitness deadline, she will be optimistic about her own sprinting prospects.

"I never doubt myself even it looks difficult," she promised. Her additional motivation is to inspire others. "It's not about me, It's about whom I'm inspiring to do their best and not give up something that they love."

After leaving Vere in 1999, she starred at Barton Community College and the University of South Carolina. On the international scene, she reached her first major individual final in 2003, with a fifth-place finish in the 100m at the World Championships. At the 2004 Olympics, she was again fifth in the 100m final and was fourth in the 200m final won by compatriot Veronica Campbell.

The bronze went to Bahamian Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie and Bailey still feels the disappointment.

"The fourth place kinda hurt, thinking that you were this close to the medal, but I was happy and proud of myself."

She was also in the 2007 World Championships 200m final.

Ten years after she made her international debut with a bronze medal in the 4x100m in the 1999 World Championship, Aleen ran strongly to reach the 100m final at the 2009 World Championships and upgraded her 1999 bronze to gold in the 4x100m.

She ran a great third leg at the 2004 Olympics and in a memorable moment, grasped Campbell's hand to ensure the baton was safely passed. Her experience as a baton expert has led her to believe that Jamaica could break the women's sprint relay world record of 40.82 seconds this season.

"I think we should do it this year, definitely," Bailey predicted. "I think the team just needs to be more unified together and not divided because the men's team, they gel, they gel. Once we get the females to gel like that then the world record is definitely (possible)."

The record was set by Americans Tianna Bartoletta, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight and Carmelita Jeter in the 2012 Olympic final.