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Bolstered by words from her personal coach, Maurice Wilson, the top man in that capacity in London, that “you are the strongest in the final,” Ristananna Tracey of Jamaica on her fourth visit to the world championships, took a long-awaited bronze medal in the one lap obstacle race before another mammoth crowd.
She was drawn in lane 7 and ran like a woman on a mission, coming into the straight in fourth spot but closely tracking the two time former champion (1913 & 1915), the Czech miss, Zuzana Hejnova. Over the final hurdle, she seized the advantage and pulled away to take third in a fantastic personal best of 53.74, her first sub 54 clocking. USA girl, Kori Carter is the world champion in 53.07 with Olympic champion and her teammate, Dalilah Muhammad, pocketing silver in 53.50.
Tracey remained inspired during her post race talk with the press. “This season has been full of setbacks and it has taken a lot of mental strength to get into this position. I have blamed myself at times for not taking opportunities but my coach has been telling me all the time that I was good enough to win a medal.”
“I have the potential but it was about actually realising the dream. It was a very strong race and I kept telling myself not to panic. Off the last hurdle I gave everything and threw myself for a dip just in case. It was so great and it can only get bigger from now. I want to be the world’s best before I retire. I was fifth in Rio and I have stepped up here. There is hopefully more to come from me in the future.”
In a race which re-wrote championships history, Jereem Richards of Trinidad & Tobago warmed the hearts of his country folk with a bronze in the 200m in 20.11, the same time accredited to 400m winner, the silver medallist South African, Wayde Van Niekerk, who was seeking the double gold.
Richards ran a good corner to come off the bend well-positioned to strike and this he did in a straight line of medal miners, and ended in a tight finishing pack which included the gold medallist, Ramon Guliev of Turkey, the first from his country to score gold at this level. Richards was upbeat as he spoke to the media after the race.
“This means a lot to me. I always wanted to bring a medal back home for my mum. I do everything for her, so I am so happy I can take her the bronze. Words alone can’t explain how grateful I am to be in this position and be lucky enough to perform here.”
Explaining how the race went, he said, “I slipped coming out of my blocks and into my drive phase. I tried my best not to let it affect me too much. At the turn I wasn’t in contention really, so to get a medal from there is a great achievement.”
Ending the interview, he was optimistic about his future.
“I have been very relaxed amongst so many professional athletes, the greatest athletes of all time. So hopefully I will become one of those type of athletes over the next few years.”
In earlier action, the Caribbean boasted two Jamaicans in the women’s 800m heats. Several time Jamaica national champion, Natoya Goule and a special invitee by the organizers Kimarra McDonlad, despite her not achieving the qualifying standard.
Goule strode out and led the field for the majority of the third heat which contained the controversial South African, Caster Semenya. The homestretch brought on extra pressure and the Jamaican wilted, finishing 5th in 2:01.77, marginally failing to advance on time to Friday’s semifinal. She was unfortunate in that her time would easily have won heat five which had three automatic qualifiers.
McDonald did not seem to be up to the challenge and trailed the field to 2:09.19 in the fifth heat.
The preliminaries of the Javelin men’s event, saw Keshorn Walcott, Trinidad & Tobago’s Olympic champion when he was last in London for a global competition, nail 86.01m on his first throw to qualify third on the ladder for the final on Saturday.
The opening round of the women’s high jump featured the St. Lucian veteran, Levern Spencer along with another special IAAF invitee in Jamaican, Kimberly Williamson, in the hunt for the top 12 to advance to the final on Saturday. They both managed 1.89m, finishing short of qualifying.
The semifinals of the women’s 200m had Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo, recovering from her mishap in the 400m final and a isappointing fourth place, back in the hunt for a medal. She won heat two in 22.49 the exact time as defending Dutch girl champion, Dafne Schippers who took the first heat.
Another Bahamian Tynia Gaither will contest Friday’s final of the women’s 200m. Gaither will enter the final with 22.85.
Miller-Uibo’s other teammate, Anthonique Strachan, TTO’s Semoy Hackette and three Jamaicans, Simone Facey, Shashalee Forbes and Jodean Williams did not advance.