You have to be swift in order to catch Khalifa St. Fort. Quick on the draw, Triniscene’s Kion Williams did catch up to Trinbago's new sprint teen sensation, as she waited to board a flight from the Edmonton International Airport back to her Miami home after the Pan American Junior Championships.
If you don’t know it yet, Khalifa is an American born sprinter of Trinidadian heritage. Through her father's intervention, she was introduced to Olympian Ato Boldon.
The sprint legend has since spoken on many occasions of how he saw her raw talent and, despite not being into coaching, could not miss the chance to be associated with this athlete and lend assistance as only he could.
What does Khalifa think about, in her words, "Coach Ato" though?
"Having a coach like Coach Ato is very motivational as he is someone who has achieved so much in the sport and reached [the heights] where I want to [reach]," St. Fort said.
The youngster is enjoying every moment of the journey she has been on since the start of her training with Ato Boldon a year and half ago.
"I've gone from a 12.1 sprinter to an 11.5 and now 11.3 sprinter," she said of Boldon's impact on her performance. Despite describing herself as an 11.3 sprinter, her personal best stands at 11.19, which she recently achieved in her silver medal run at the World Junior Championships.
The young protégé has since added a Pan Am gold medal to her international haul, just this past week. However, the real aim is to reach 11 flat or even 10.9 by the time the World Championships come around at the end of August.
Her present times put her in the frame for a spot in Trinidad and Tobago's Women's 4x100m relay team. If she does manage to dip under 11, that would put T&T as a reasonable challenger for the gold medal, provided the relay team can get the baton around the track.
She is already off to a good start as the junior Women's relay team were able to do just that en route to a 4th place finish at the Pan Am Juniors, despite having “only a couple” practices beforehand. She had never really met her teammates prior to the games but everyone made her feel welcome.
"I had a great time with the team and really enjoyed it [the Pan Am Games]," the rookie said. If the same applies to her time with the senior athletes then T&T's sprint future looks to be in good hands.
The sprint princess had a few words for citizens of T&T.
"I've seen all the messages on my Twitter and my family at home [in Trinidad] has told me of all the love from everyone. I just want to thank you for the support"
She intends to visit the country annually for a short vacation but right now the focus is still on training and continuous improvement, until the season ends in September when it's back to school.
From what we have seen of her, we know that Khalifa has the fortitude and determination to emulate- and possibly even surpass, her Coach Ato.