BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Sprint hurdler Ackera Nugent battled bravely for nearly one-third of her race with a sprained left ankle, but not even that was going to prevent the Jamaican from delivering for her country. She secured the bronze medal in the girl’s 100 metres final at the Youth Olympics Games on Sunday, October 14, with a combined time of 26.41 seconds.
Nugent, who won her medal on a sprained ankle, said “It’s all worth it because Jamaica was depending on me and I wasn’t gonna give up halfway just because of my ankle.”
She clocked 12.96 seconds to finish second on Sunday in the de facto final, the final heat of Stage Two that brought together the eight fastest qualifiers from Stage One. The event was won by American Grace Stark, who improved her Stage One time from 13.31 to 12.83 seconds, while Sophie White, the Australian who came to the championship with the fastest time, 13.18, was third in 13.01.
However, the format for medals was based on a combination of times in Stages One and Two and the consistent Stark claimed gold with 26.14 seconds, while White got silver over Nugent by one-hundredth of a second.
“I have a regret based on the first heat because if I had run just a tipsy, little more seconds I would have got the silver,” said Nugent, who managed to put a smile on the face, which had reflected nothing but grief from after the finish.
The 16-year-old athlete went down immediately after crossing the finish line and was removed in a wheelchair to the medical tent. She was quickly rushed to hospital in the adjoining Athletes Village, where x-rays revealed she had suffered a sprain.
“When I was around the seventh hurdle my trail leg had a bad landing whereby my ankle turned inside,” she said. “It’s a bad strain, I was lucky I didn’t have my foot broken, but I’ll be fine.”
Nugent added: “Everything is possible because of the Lord because if he wasn’t in the mix I think it would have been worse and I wouldn’t be able to finish the race.”
Continuing, she said: “I think I would have won the race … I went out there and I executed well, but I had a bad landing. Other than the landing I think I went out there and did what I was supposed to do because I attacked each hurdle and I sprinted between the hurdles.”
Nugent though noted she had one disappointment.
“Basically I wanted to run 12.8. Running a 12.9 was okay and I’ll have more chances because I have next year to prove myself,” she said.
Ryan Foster, CEO of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), congratulated Nugent on her success.
“The Jamaica Olympic Association is extremely pleased with Ackera Nugent’s performance today (14 Oct), despite the challenging circumstances, and in winning our country’s first medal. Ackera represents the epitome of what we refer to as Generation Next, the athletes who will form the core of Jamaica’s next generation of success in sport.
Foster added: “Her performance was exceptional. Despite not winning the gold, she won the bronze in her personal best time and the JOA could not have asked for anything better. The JOA hopes that this medal will galvanise the other athletes to go out and give of their best. The JOA represents opportunities, equality, but most importantly giving of your best. That’s the best medal to be won.”
Jamaica’s other competitor on Sunday, Evaldo Whitehorne, was third in Stage Two, Heat Two of the boys’ 400 metres in 50.93.
His countrywoman, Daniella Deer, was scheduled to run in the girl’s equivalent, but she did not recover from a hamstring injury that crippled her chances in Stage One.
David Riley, head coach of Jamaica’s team, labelled Nugent’s medal “a good start”.
“It’s the first final that we’re in and we’ve gotten a medal. Jamaicans always like medals so it’s good, at least we’re on the medal table,” said Riley.