LONDON, ENGLAND -- It's a shame there wasn't a sand pit at the end of the women's 100-metre sprint Friday at the Olympic Stadium in London.
LONDON, ENGLAND -- Trinidad's Kelly-Ann Baptiste, right, and Canada's Kerri-Ann Mitchell, of Pickering, competed in a women's 100-metre preliminary heat August 3 in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics. August 3, 2012
Martin Meissner / AP
As it was, there was just the finish line, and Pickering's Kerri-Ann Mitchell didn't quite reach it in time to advance to Saturday's semifinals at the 2012 Olympic Games.
In fact, her time of 11.49 was well short of where it needed to be -- she was sixth in a heat that advanced three and 41st overall -- and also shy of her personal best of 11.32, something she had hoped to better.
Nevertheless, Mitchell was as happy and bubbly as could be afterward, content in the knowledge that's she a relative newcomer to the sprint, having converted less than two years ago from long jump, and confident there's plenty of room for growth.
"This is definitely the beginning for me, so I'm really excited," said Mitchell, who returned to athletics two years ago after a few years away. "I'm getting my mind all set for worlds and 2016 (Rio Olympics), and all these things to come because it's just coming together for me after taking a couple of years off. I'm excited."
Mitchell, a Pine Ridge Secondary School grad, completed an athletic scholarship at the University of Arkansas and earned her masters degree from the University of Oklahoma prior to settling into a career in the United States.
However, about two years ago she got the itch to compete again, packed up and headed home. She figures she still has plenty of gas in the tank, and much more to learn.
"Oh definitely, definitely," she said when asked if she truly believed she could reach the Olympics again at 33. "People are always amazed when I tell them my age, because I don't look it and then I guess because I have these new legs that can sprint instead of jump. So, yeah, I'm confident.
"It's been just over a year now that I've focused on sprint," she continued. "I still have some jumper moves out there that don't belong on any straightaway. I have a lot of things to clean up and polish and that can drop two-, four-, five-tenths of a second, so I'm there, just technically I'm holding myself back."
There were six women Friday who broke the 11-second barrier, including Trinidad and Tobago's Kelly-Ann Baptiste in Mitchell's heat and one of her idols, American Carmelita Jeter, who is 32 and an inspiration to Mitchell.
Despite being in such company and making her Olympic debut before a large and loud crowd, Mitchell insisted she felt no nerves.
"No," she said emphatically when asked if she was nervous. "Gosh, I wish I was. That's probably what set me back. Seeing a lot of my idols, and watching Jeter, who I've watched to get technique moves from, and standing next to her is just 'wow', but I was more happy that I could try to challenge her.
"They're just like me," she added. "They're the same height, they're the same build, so it's a matter of technique and working on power, and I'm new so I can still develop these ares. I'm right where I need to be."
Mitchell will now take in the rest of Games, although she still has a few plans, including working with her coach, Pickering's Anthony McCleary, and perhaps indulging herself a bit.
"I'll sit down, talk to my coach, reflect a lot on what I need to do, express how I feel and what I can improve on, and then maybe I'll catch a frappuccino or something," she said. "It's been a long time since I've got to have one."
Brian McNair is in London covering the Olympics for the Metroland Media Group