The recently concluded JAAA National Senior Athletics Championships, held at the National Stadium, June 30- July 3, was an extraordinary means of showcasing the nation’s top Track and Field athletes, as well as some up and coming talents.
It brought into sharp focus the bounty of talent that Jamaica has been blessed with and the need for all stakeholders to find the best means to cultivate these talents, making sure they reach their full potential.
Friday July 1 was perhaps the most exciting day for many, as it was the day of the 100m finals, which is considered by Track and Field enthusiasts as the main event across the sport. World and Olympic Champion Usain Bolt was noticeably missing, following his withdrawal after the semifinal due to injury. However, the caliber of the talent which remained was quite impressive, with the likes of Asafa Powell and Yohan Blake.
However, if there was a prize for the most improved male in the 100m; it would have gone to former champs star Jevaughn Minzie. The Bog Walk High School standout improved with every round, clocking, 10.07 sec in the semifinals for a new personal best and ending with 10.02 sec, finishing 3rd, behind Blake and Ashmeade respectively, beating veteran sprinter Asafa Powell into 4th in the process and proving that he has come of age.
In the women’s equivalent, the changing of the guards was even more apparent, as mimes Olympic and world champion Veronica Campbell-Brown, (said to be nursing an injury) and world and Olympic medalists Kerron Stewart finished 4th and 6th respectively. The even went to rising star and 2015 World Championship 200m silver medalist Elaine Thompson, in blistering 10.70 sec, equaling the national record set by Shelly Ann Fraser- Pryce, who incidentally finished second to Thompson in a season’s best time of 10.93 sec.
Similarly to what played out in the men’s event, MVP’s Christania Williams proved that she had the goods when it mattered most and produced a personal best 10.97 sec, to finish 3rd, completing an MVP sweep of the event and booking her individual spot to Rio.
The trend continued throughout the Championships, as we saw many times National champion Novlene Williams-Mills, being beaten into 4th clocking 50.64, with her three of her younger counterparts, Stephenie- Ann McPherson, Christine Day sec and Shericka Jackson. All three booking their places on the team in 50.04, 50.29 and 50.42 seconds respectively.
Megan Simmonds, winner the women’s 100m hurdles and Deuce Carter, second in the 110m hurdles for men, also proved that the talent pool will never be dry and the future of Jamaica’s Track and Field will continue be bright.