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Universality Spot For Joella Lloyd: Tokyo Olympics To Be Young Sprinter’s First Games

By Neto Baptiste

Women’s sprinter and University of Tennessee freshman Joella Lloyd has joined the list of athletes from Antigua and Barbuda who will compete at the Tokyo Olympics slated for July 28 to August 8 in Japan.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed on Sunday that Lloyd, who holds the country’s national record in the 100 meters at 11.19 seconds, has received a Universality (wildcard) sport at the 2020 Games. She joins senior men’s sprinter Cejhae Greene, boxer Alston Ryan and sailor Jalese Gordon as athletes confirmed so far for Tokyo.

President of the Antigua and Barbuda Athletics Association (ABAA) Everton Cornelius expects great things from the athlete who, he added, has shown great progress this season.

“I am very proud of her and it was my expectation that it would have happened anyway, based on the time she would have run before in terms of the 11.19 seconds. So I think she stood a very good chance, once we did not have a female qualifier that she would have been the obvious choice going forward to the games. I think it is going to be a good experience for her and it would not surprise me if she advances at least to the semifinals, because I think she can definitely rise to the occasion,” he said.

The IOC’s universality rule allows NOCs to enter one male athlete and one female athlete, regardless of time, if they have no athletes of that gender meeting the qualifying standard. For the women’s 100-meter dash, Lloyd’s personal-best time of 11.19 is just .04 seconds off the entry standard of 11.15 set by World Athletics.

Meanwhile, high-jumper Priscilla Frederick Loomis failed to qualify for the Olympics despite a last ditch effort in the Bahamas last week.

Cornelius said that athletes have had to contend with a number of issues that have negatively impacted their performances.

“We’ve been dealing with the pandemic and I don’t think anybody has really gotten the chance to really perform to the level and train in the way they would really like to, even though Priscilla and the guys in the states [USA] are in a much better place in terms of finding competition. We have to bear in mind also that the last World Championships and Olympics [she attended] was partly because of the fact that she got that same universality spot because of the position she came in Pan Am Games when she won a medal at those games,” he said.

The Antigua and Barbuda National Olympic Committee (ABNOC), is awaiting confirmation for universality spots for swimmers Samantha Roberts and Stefano Mitchell.

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