BEIJING, China – The Caribbean continued to ride on the best of its number, Jamaica moving to five on the medal tally here in Beijing today. Legend plus, Usain Bolt, escorted by super coach, the Hon. Glen Mills OJ, took his word of confidence uttered on the previous day, into another clash with the equally talkative, Justin Gatlin.
The outcome was clear when the Parish of Trelawny product, grown up on its popular fruit, yam, entered the straight after making the corner seem like it was not a factor. He proceeded on his merry way, smiling as he executed, challenged by Gatlin at 70m to go, but shrugged it off like an over persistent Chic V mosquito. Thumping his chest with both fists, he motored through the line to be yet another world champion in his favourite event in a 2015 best 19.55 to the American’s 19.74. Of interest to the region, would be Anguillan Zharnel Hughes, representing Great Britain, making the 5th spot in a lifetime best of 20.02.
In the finals of the women’s 400m, Caribbean athletes lined up 2-3-4-5-6 going to the finish. The silver medal went to the dual champion at World Youth and World Junior level, Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller with poise and charm to spare. She is at age 21 years, a proud member of the Georgia, USA-based, Claude Bryan Athletes Representative camp which includes the prized, Veronica Campbell-Brown (VCB).
She was clocked at a lifetime best 49.67, only her second excursion sub 50 seconds. This race could contain, the cream of the future of the event, as another 21 year old, Jamaica’s emerging gritty, Shericka Jackson, out of the most prolific high school track and field program in the region – Vere Technical High, pocketed bronze in a personal record of 49.99.
The performance was, in the view of this scribe, worthy of best Jamaican effort, thus far, considering the expectations coming in. it can b seen as Shericka giving thanks and paying tribute to the late and sadly lamented Vere Tech middle distance coach, Constantine Haughton who guided her career in the early days. Out of the medals but no less creditworthy, were, Christine Day the Jamaican national champion (50.14PB), her runner-up and 2014 Commonwealth champion, Stephenie Ann McPherson (50.42) and Osaka, 2007 bronze medallist and 8 time national champion, Novlene Williams – Mills (50.47SB).
Two personal bests for two of the three athletes he had in the final, McPherson, being the third, no praise can be too high for the much maligned coach Stephen Francis, albeit for activism on behalf of his charges. The world champion is the USA’s Allyson Felix (49.26WL), who opted out of the 200m, her favourite event, and where she has mined three gold medals in these championships, to go for her first gold in the one lap.
Caribbeans took to the track early in the 110mh semifinals for men and Jamaica’s 21 year old, Omar ‘’Mr. Silk’’ McLeod, the national champion was prominent in his first global competition. He topped the qualifiers from the region to the final eight, posting 2nd in heat 2 with 13.14, slamming into all ten barriers in the process.
Highly respected hurdles coach, Lennox Graham is now campaigning on the US Collegiate circuit, including stewardship over the Williams’ sisters, Danielle and Shermaine, safely into the 100mh semifinals. He will have some work to do in getting things with McLeod sorted out for the final where he could get his country’s first medal at these championships. Whether there is time to do it, only the final will tell.
London Olympics bronze medallist, teammate, Hansle Parchment, was next in line, being 2nd in heat 1 with 13.16. Those who failed to make the final eight were, Barbadian duo, Shane Brathwaite, 5th in heat 1, 13.31 and Greggmar Swift, 7th in heat 2, 13.44, as well as Jamaica’s former national champion, Andrew Riley, 5th in heat 3, 13.43. Spare a melancholy moment for the top qualifier allround, Olympic Champion and world
In the semifinals of the women’s 200m the Caribbean ladies were in fine form, all three who are Jamaicans, advanced, with new girl, Elaine Thompson, the country’s national champion, and the latest gem from the Stephen Francis-prepared MVP TC camp, underlined her elite status, with another “burn the bend and relax in the straight run” for 1st in heat 1 in 22.13. 100m joint silver medallist in her 2008 Olympics visit to the Bird’s Nest Stadium, Sherone Simpson in continuance of her rich 2015 form, got a confidence boost with her 2nd place in heat 5 in 22.53. lastly, the resilient Veronica Campbell-Brown, refusing to wear the “past it” labels, being thrust on her from some doubters, was 3rd in heat 3 in a season best effort of 22.47, to be the slowest of the two provisional qualifiers.
Top qualifier overall, with 1st in heat 3 with 2015 best, 22.12, was 19 year old, British girl, Dina Asher-Smith, who at 17, won bronze on anchor in the sprint relay at the Moscow championships in 2013. She is also the reigning 100m World Junior Champion.