Doha, Qatar – Jamaica’s 4x100m relay quartet scored an emphatic victory in the penultimate showstopper event, on day nine of the IAAF World Athletics Championships, inside the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar.
Led by newly minted world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Jamaica mixed slick baton exchanges, combined with raw speed to register a world-leading 41.44 seconds; winning by more than four-tenths of a second over Great Britain 41.85 season’s best. Team USA a distant third in 42.10.
“Honestly, as soon as the race started I was like yes Natalliah (Whyte), and then while Shelly-Ann was running I was like well, girl you better run,” said Jonielle Smith.
“When I got the baton, I was like running for my life while thinking I’ve got to get the baton around and then I saw myself passing people. When I handed over safely to Shericka (Jackson), I said that’s the gold.”
Leadoff runner Whyte chipped in, “I wanted to prove to Jamaica that I had the ability being the youngest member and just like yesterday I wanted to duplicate my semi-final run and I did just that.”
World 400m bronze medallist Jackson, who ran anchor, admitted she had been waiting for this moment a long time, which she thought, would never come. “I knew from before I contested the 400m, that I was going to run on the 4x100m relay and was pretty excited,” said Jackson.
“I’ve always wanted to run anchor at major championships, I got the opportunity tonight, and I’m grateful. When I saw Jonielle coming hard, I wanted to move but remembered coach telling me around the back that I must not leave too early. So I waited on her, and when she said ‘reach’ and I held out my hand, I just wanted to run as fast as possible because they had done a really good job and I wanted my leg to be excellent.”
Veteran sprinter Fraser-Pryce, whose world championships 4x100m medal tally now stands at six, inclusive of 4 gold and two silver, showered praises on her young team members.
“I’m excited as a team we came out here collectively and did our best and came out on top,” said Fraser-Pryce. “All the ladies stepped up, and it was a team effort. It was wonderful.”
It was third time lucky for Jamaica’s Shanieka Ricketts. The Diamond League triple jump winner bounded out to 14.92m, a centimetre off her personal best, which was good enough for silver in a pulsating contest.
Ricketts, who was competing at her third world championships, was consistent throughout and it took an effort beyond 15m by defending champion Yulima Rojas of Venezuela to defeat her. Nevertheless, Ricketts was elated to be on the podium.
“Tonight, I am just happy that I was able to finish second,” said Ricketts. “This is my first global medal, and I’ve been to three world championships. Over the years, there have been many disappointments, so to come out tonight and deliver it means the world to me. I’m just grateful to everybody who has been supporting me throughout my journey.”
The sprint hurdles, which so often creates surprises, produced another shocker on Saturday. Olympic champion Brianna McNeal was the biggest casualty; she suffered the indignity of a false start in heat two of the women’s 100m hurdles after coming into the event as one of the overwhelming favourites.
Jamaica’s Yanique Thompson came second in the heat in 12.85 (+0.2 m/s) to advance to the semi-finals. “Due to the false start, I was trying to keep my focus and don’t make the same mistake that Brianna did,” said Thompson.
“Technically, I think it was a pretty bad race because I hit a couple of hurdles with my lead leg, so it was not my cleanest race, but that’s due to race rustiness as I haven’t competed in a while. I’m glad to get the rust off, and hopefully, I’ll do better in the next round.”
Danielle Williams, the 2015 World champion, stamped her authority in heat three with a comfortable win in 12.51 seconds (+0.4 m/s). “It was a well-executed race,” said Williams.
“It was faster than I planned to go, and I was happy to make it through the next round injury-free.”
Williams’ teammates Megan Tapper (12.78) and Janeek Brown (12.61) also advanced after second-placed finishes in the respective heats.
Both are looking ahead to the next round. “I came out here to get the cobwebs off and see how fast I could go basically,” said Tapper.
“I am grateful that I have another round to compete in, and I’m looking to do a lot better in the semi-finals.”
Brown, the 2019 NCAA Champion, competing at her first world championships was also racing for the first time after a long layoff.
“The race was not perfectly executed, and that’s because I haven’t competed in six weeks,” she said.
“This was basically a blowout race, and I’m satisfied to blowout 12.61 knowing that adjustments can be made for the next round. The track felt fantastic, it’s a fast track, and hopefully, I can better my personal best here.”
In the women’s 4x400m heats, Jamaica advanced comfortably after registering 3:23.64. The team will likely include Shericka Jackson, who has so far collected gold in the 4x100m and bronze in the 400m flat.
In the men’s equivalent, Jamaica crossed the line first in their heat in 3:00.76 with defending champion Trinidad & Tobago easing up into third in 3:01.87.
In the final, Jamaica will start in lane five and Trinidad & Tobago from lane nine. Both teams are looking forward to bring their best game on the big occasion.
“This run was to everyone a taste of the track,” said Deon Lendore. “A lot of us were unfortunate not to compete in the open event. Tonight was the first time we got our feet wet, and it was a good first run. It is all about recovering and coming back out tomorrow to defend our title.”
Akeem Bloomfield, a finalist in the men’s 400m flat, was the leadoff runner for Jamaica and he was happy with the overall team effort. “I think my leg was OK,” said Bloomfield.
“I put the team in a good position, handing off to Nathon (Allen) who did a good job and we kept moving the baton around and got a season’s best and we are just moving forward right now.”
Elsewhere, Grenada’s Anderson Peters qualified for the men’s javelin after hurling the spear 85.34m in the second round over a metre and a half beyond the qualifying mark of 84m.
London 2012 Olympic champion Kershorn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago joined Peters in the Sunday’s final with his first throw of 84.44m.
Chanice Porter, with 6.57m, made the final of the women’s long jump.