IT'S BRONZE - Nugent claims first medal at Youth Olympic Games

Determined Nugent battles injury to secure bronze

Monday, October 15, 2018

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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 as she ran a career-best time to secure the bronze medal in the girls' 100-metre final at the Youth Olympic Games yesterday, with a combined time of 26.41 seconds.

“I have to be grateful based on (the fact that) I went out there to get a personal best on a sprained ankle. But it's all worth it, because Jamaica was depending on me and I wasn't gonna give up halfway just because of my ankle,” said Nugent.

She clocked a personal best 12.96 seconds to finish second yesterday 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 personal best (PB) 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 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, howeber, 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, 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 yesterday, Evaldo Whitehorne, was third in Stage Two, Heat Two of the boys' 400 metres in 50.93 seconds.

His countrywoman, Daniella Deer, was scheduled to run in the girls' 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.

“We're positioned well; Antonio Watson is in the 200, Michali Everett in the 100, he should be able to do something there, Danielle (Sloley) in the shot put, she didn't look bad, she started well, but the conditions got her; it got colder during the rounds so she suffered from that,” added Riley.

“We should have Shanthamoi (Brown) as well in the four hurdles, he looked decent in the first stage, so we have some more persons who can go out there and deliver.”

Everett and Sloley will compete in the de facto finals today, Stage Two heats with the top eight qualifiers. With combined times deciding the medals.

Everett, while winning his heat, is joint fifth in the boys' 100m at 10.94, with South Africa's Luke Davids fastest in 10.56. Nigeria's Olukunle Akintola (10.76), Japan's Seiryo Ikeda (10.82), Germany's Fabian Olbert (10.93)m and Saudi Arabia's Ahmed Almarwani (10.94) his main contenders. The event starts at 5:26 pm (3:26 pm Jamaica time).

Sloley's Stage One effort of 15.00m placed her eighth in the girls' shot put, which should be won by China's Games record-breaker Xinhui Li, with 18.42m. Three throwers over 17m seem set for the other two medals while Sloley can lift her stocks against the other three competitors, who are within range with 15-point throws. Her event begins at 4:50 pm (2:50 pm Jamaica time).

Three other Jamaicans are in action today — Shacquille Lowe in the boys' long jump, which begins at 2:20 pm; Kimar Farquharson in the boys' 800m, that starts at 3:20 pm and girls' high jumper Shantae Foreman, whose event begins at 4:50 pm. They never did well in Stage One and are out of the Stage Two medal heats today.

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