Athletics

Fast lane face off

Hustle on for World Championships places as senior 'Trials' gets cracking

BY HOWARD WALKER
Senior staff reporter
walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, June 20, 2019

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The much-anticipated Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) Supreme Ventures National Senior and Junior Championships starts today, as athletes vie for positions to global and regional events on the track and field calendar.

The four-day championships will be divided into three main components — Under-18 male and female; Under-20 male and female; and senior male and female.

Of major significance for senior athletes is team selection for the IAAF World Championships to be hosted from September 28 to October 6 in Qatar.

The national championships will also form the basis for selection for the NACAC Under-23 and Under-18 Championships from July 5-7 in Mexico; the Pan Am Under-20 Championships from July 19-21 in Costa Rica; and the Pan Am Games from August 6-11 in Peru.

With that said, it should be exciting stuff until Sunday as the nation anxiously awaits the outcome to see who will represent the island with the aim of keeping Jamaica on the map, especially in this post-Usain Bolt era.

Action starts at 10:00 am with the 100m men's qualifying rounds that will be the only event in the morning session. Action resumes at 5:30 pm with the men's javelin and triple jump, then the women's 400m hurdles at 6:05 pm, followed by the men's 400m hurdles heats.

The day's event then enters the junior athletes phase at 6:40 pm with the running of the Under-18 girl's 400m heats to be followed by the Under-20 boys and girls. The 100m heats will be next.

Then the seniors will contest the 100m heats for women and men to close the opening day at 8:55 pm.

Jamaica is in good stead with female sprinting, as two-time Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson, the double Olympic champion, are seemingly nearing their best, a mouth-watering clash is expected between the two MVP top guns.

The event will have added spice as two of Jamaica's most promising 17-year-olds Briana Williams and Kevona Davis have thrown their hats in the ring. In the mix are Jonelle Smith, Natalliah Whyte, Shashalee Forbes, Natasha Morrison, Rene Medley, and Gayon Evans.

The men's blue riband event will be less spectacular and more worrying as fans are hoping that someone will emerge as a worthy contender to take on the world after the retirement of Bolt.

Yohan Blake is seen as that person, but can he recapture his form of eight years ago or even get close to it to be relevant to challenge the emerging Americans?

Blake, who was disqualified last year, is the fastest Jamaican this year with 9.98, and he will be tested by the returning Kemar Bailey-Cole, and two youngsters fresh from their US Collegiate exploits in Raheem Chambers (10.09) and Andre Ewers (10.06).

Olympic 110m hurdles champion Omar McLeod is listed for the flat 100m, but it is left to be seen if he will participate, especially after his fall in the Rabat Diamond League a few days ago. The 100m finals are set for Friday night at 9:00 pm.

There will be a lot of stars on show, especially in the field events which seem to be the area that has seen the most improvement for Jamaica with the likes of Fedrick Dacres in the discus, shot putter O'Dayne Richards, and Danniel Thomas-Dodd, triple jumpers Shanieka Ricketts and Kimberly Williams and Tajay Gayle, Wayne Pinnock, Damar Forbes, Ramone Bailey, and Odaine Lewis in the long jump.

The promising Akeem Bloomfield, who is Jamaica's second-fastest 400m runner of all time with 43.94, will skip the event and concentrate on the 200m where his personal best of 19.81 makes him the favourite. Blake is also listed, along with emerging Ewers, who ran 20.14, which makes him the fastest Jamaican in the 200m this year.

Another mouth-watering event will be the women's 100m hurdles featuring new national record holder Janeek Brown, who is pitted against Danielle Williams, the 2015 World champion.


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