By Kino Cummings, TrackAlerts.com writer
Melaine Walker, Jermaine Gonzales and Kenia Sinclair. These are name which will forever be carved in the fabric that is Jamaica’s history, but where are they now? What has happened to these champions who have all helped to firmly make Jamaica the global power it is today? And importantly will they rise from the ashes like the phoenix to once again be world beaters?
Sleeping Giants Series: Melaine Wlaker
Melaine Walker, one of Jamaica’s most successful athletes overall has found the going tough after deciding to switch from an event which has brought her to the top of the world, the 400m Hurdles. This was to facilitate her move to the faster and more explosive 100m Hurdles. Many including her veteran coach Stephen Francis thought it was ill-advised as Walker was previously NCAA champion, and of course world and Olympic champion with a personal best of 52.42 seconds ranking her as the second fastest woman in history and second only to the world record holder Yuilya Pechenkina of Russia at 52. 34. Walker then moved to the races track club, under the guidance renowned coach Glen Mills, who incidentally is also coach of the fastest man in history Usain Bolt.
Walker competed in the 100m hurdles at the national trials last year, only managing pedestrian times well over 13 seconds. Will this sleeping giant awaken to trample her competitors? We wait, with fingers crossed.
Sleeping Giants Series: Jermaine Gonzales
Jermaine Gonzales on the other hand has been plagued by injury throughout his career. Though gaining medals at the junior level, his battles with injuries seemed from that time to be never ending. In 2006 however he seemed to be coming back to form, as he won several races on the Grand Prix circuit before erasing the old Jamaican national record set by Roxbert Martin in 1997 of 44.49, to a new national record of 44.40, but injury again forced him to the sidelines.
In 2015, Gonz, as he is affectionately called, again tried to make a comeback at the Jamaican national trials, but was forced to pull up after the first few meters. Earlier this year at the Gibson McCook relays, in an interview with TVJ, he noted that he will be aiming to run at the Jamaica International Invitational, but noted that he is taking it slow, as he wants to be in good enough shape for the upcoming Olympic trials.
Though the outing at the JII meet did not materialize, we are at the edge of our seats to see what this sleeping giant will bring to the table come trials 2016.
Sleeping Giants Series: Kenia Sinclair
Kenia Sinclair is one of Jamaica’s most prolific Middle distance runners in recent history. Bursting onto the scene in 2005, she broke Inez Turner’s 10 year old national record and lowered it to 1.58.88, making her only the 5th Jamaican woman to go under 2 minutes. She became World indoor championship silver medalist in 2005 after failing to reach the Olympic final in the previous staging. In 2006 she again lowered the national record to 1.57.88, beating her hero Maria Mutola of Mozambique.
Sinclair is also multiple national champion over the distance and a in 2008 placed 8th in the Olympic final, running 1.58.24. However a devastating car accident in 2013 sidelined her and she has been struggling to come back ever since. At the JII meet earlier this month, Sinclair finished last in the 1500 meters, which was no doubt done for strength work in making her sharp for her pet event, the 800m. Sinclair recently clocked 2.02.32 over the distance, at a meet in Los Angeles making her second on the Jamaican list this season, only to Natoya Goule, who ran 2.01.55 in Tampa Florida, last Friday.
Now at the age of 35, we look to see if this great champion, will be able to rise from the ashes and once more run alongside giants.