BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Ackera Nugent appears set to capture Jamaica’s first medal at the Youth Olympic Games when she races in Stage Two, Heat Three of the girl’s 100 metres hurdles on Sunday, October 14 at 2:45 p.m. (12:45 p.m. Jamaica time).
Also, Jamaica’s World Youth 400 metres champion, Antonio Watson of Petersfield High moved into medal contention by winning Heat Two, Stage One of the boys’ 200 metres in 21.33 seconds, the second fastest time heading into Stage Two; and boys’ team captain Shanthamoi Brown has faint hopes for a medal after advancing in the boys’ 400 metres hurdles in eighth spot. Those events are slated for Tuesday, October 16.
Nugent’s moment is now and her heat, the final of three, consists of the fastest qualifiers in Stage One. She is in an uncontested bracket with the three fastest qualifiers. The others are the United States’ Grace Stark, who recorded a PB 13.31 in winning her heat ahead of Australian Sophie White, who finished like a train in 13.39 seconds.
Both ran in the same heat, unlike Nugent who won her heat very easily. However, the lack of competition could have implications on the Jamaican’s chances in the overall medal placings, as the winners will be adjudged by a combination of the first and second stage times.
At the track Friday, Nugent, with a career-best 13.18, noted that “I am ready”.
The Excelsior High School student’s statement falls in line with the execution and description of her first race here.
“My race execution to about the eighth hurdle felt well, but seeing that I was leading I just eased back a little and went through the motions for the rest of the race,” she said.
Asked what she needed to go faster, Nugent admitted: “I guess I need more competition.”
That she looks set to get from Stark and White, who entered this competition with the fastest time, 13.14.
There will be two other girl’s 100m races, which pits the runners finishing outside the top eight based on their Stage One times.
The same holds for the 400 metres, which will parade the two other Jamaicans competing on the day. However, after performing below par in Stage One, Calabar High’s Evaldo Whitehorne, who clocked 51.55 and Vere Technical’s Daniella Deer, who was timed in 1:00.12, are not in the medal hunt and will instead seek redemption in the minor races. Whitehorne goes first in Stage Two, Heat Two of the boys’ 400m at 4:17 p.m. (2:17 p.m. Jamaica time), while Deer races in the Heat One of the girl’s equivalent, at 5:05 p.m. (3:05 p.m. Jamaica time).
Promise for better things came with Watson’s turn of footing over the half-lap, as he motored away from the field to provide a reminder of Jamaica’s global stature in sprints.
“I was really surprised with the time, but my coach told me not to worry about it (time), it’s in your body. I just came out here to deliver a first run to remember,” he stated.
Continuing, Watson said: “I didn’t expect this, I expected a 21.5, but 21.3 came so I’ll take it. I can go a lot of faster. This boosts my confidence going into the next round because 21.3 today wasn’t really bad, so when the final comes I’ll put it all out there on the track.”
That he must do as the fastest qualifier, Qatar’s Abdelaziz Mohamed, clocked a PB 21.10. The third-placed qualifier, Ali Anwar Al Balushi of Oman, is some way off with a 21.63 clocking.
Brown, who placed third in his heat in 53.87 and eighth overall, has a lot of catching up to do in the 400 hurdles to get a medal in this combined-time format. Japan’s Hiruto Deguchi led all qualifiers with 51.40, followed by South Africa’s Gora Lindukuhle, 51.70, and Daniel Huller, 51.88, the winner of Brown’s Stage One heat.
“I’m not disappointed in my race. The time could have been better. I had some mishaps in the race, but come Tuesday it’ll be a different race,” said Brown. “During the stage one race the two persons who finished in front of me, we were all tied together at the 300m mark. But come Tuesday I’ll work on my approach.”
On a sad note, Brown reached out to his Kingston College school community, which has been rocked with the death of six students recently.
“I know that my school, for the past couple of months, it has been a rough time. I want to tell my fellow schoolmates to just stay strong, keep believing and keep moving forward and keep the faith,” he said.
Friday was the burial for one of them, his classmate.
“Grannel my brother, big up yourself,” said Brown. “Today you are being laid to rest, sleep in peace, ‘nuff’ love bro.”
In the boys’ triple jump, Jamaica’s Apalos Edwards was 11 of 15 with 14.99 metres. Alejandro Diaz of Cuba won with 17.14m, finishing ahead of Nigeria’s Emmeanuel Oritsemeya, 16,34m and India’s Praveen Chithravel, 15.84m.
Kimar Farquharson fared badly in the boys’ 800m, finishing seventh of nine in 1:57.51 seconds, 22nd overall of the 24 competitors. Ethiopia’s Tasew Yada recorded the fastest qualifying time in winning the heat in 1:49.38, Ali Mohamed Gouaned, 1:50.08 ran a PB for second and Djibouti’s Hamzi Ali Hassan was third in 1:5.12. (Heat 2 – 1:51.17) and (Heat 1 – 1:50.83, 1:50.85).