Athletics

Mouth-watering prospects for Jamaican women at Monaco Diamond League

BY HOWARD WALKER
Senior staff reporter
walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, July 12, 2019

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Double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson lines up in a crack 200m field and leads seven other Jamaicans into action at the Monaco Diamond League today as they continue to fine-tune their preparations for the IAAF World Championships in Qatar in September.

The other Jamaicans in action are Danielle Williams, Janeek Brown (100m hurdles), Shanieka Ricketts, Kimberly Williams (triple jump), Rushell Clayton, Janieve Russell (400m hurdles), and Natoya Goule (800m).

There is no Jamaican male competing at the meet.

Thompson, who won gold in the 100m and 200m at the Rio Olympics in 2016, enters the 200m as the world leader with 22.00 seconds. The Jamaican champion will face last week's conqueror Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria, who defeated her at the Prefontaine Classic on June 30. Okagbare clocked 22.05 which puts her second behind Thompson on the world list. Earlier on May 21, Thompson sped to victory in 22.40 at the Nanjing World Challenge in China and had Okagbare behind her.

But both Thompson and Okagbare will have to contend with Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of The Bahamas, who opened her 200m account in style, clocking 22.18 to win in Hungary on July 9. She had behind her both Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast and American Jenna Prandini, who are also listed for today's race. The 2017 World champion Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands, with a seasonal best of 22.56, along with Americans Teahna Daniels and Gabrielle Thomas complete the line-up.

Meanwhile, Jamaicans will be watching keenly the 100m hurdles clash between 2015 World champion Danielle Williams and new national record holder Janeek Brown. It was a matchup that never materialised at the Jamaican championship following a sequence of events.

Both Williams and Brown are in a crack line-up that includes American world record holder Kendra Harrison, fellow Americans Nia Ali, Christina Clemons and Sherika Nelvis. Then there are Pamela Dutkiewicz of Germany and Karolina Koleczek of Poland.

The 21-year-old Brown is in the form of her life, moving her 2018 personal best from 12.80 to 12.40 in 2019 to be the number-one-ranked hurdler in the world and fastest Jamaican ever over the hurdles. Williams was the darling of Jamaican female hurdling since 2015 when she upset the applecart and struck gold in Beijing. Her 12.66 clocking this year puts her seventh in the world and fans were eagerly awaiting that matchup in Jamaica.

However, as fate would have it that matchup never materialised in Jamaica as Williams was disqualified for false starting and protested stubbornly, while it became more chaotic after Brown thought she was on her way to victory only to glimpse around and realised she was alone after the starter had called back the race for another infringement with some athletes sprawling on the turf, while others stopped at the sound of the second gun.

Since then social media have been abuzz, as fans demand that Williams somehow be given a place on Jamaica's team to the World Championship in September, and one could expect should she defeat Brown, that noise will get louder.

The women's 400m hurdles will see Jamaica with two entrants in national champion Rushell Clayton and Janieve Russell, both of whom will be hard pressed against a quality field including the emerging American star Sydney McLaughlin, who enters the race with the fastest time of 53.72.

McLaughlin won in her Diamond League debut earlier this season and will have to contend with compatriots in World champion Kori Carter and Rio 2016 bronze medallist Ashley Spencer, as well as Switzerland's European champion Lea Sprunger.

Jamaica's little warrior Natoya Goule is down for the 800m and will have to contend with Americans Ajee Wilson and Raevyn Rogers and Nelly Jepkosgei of Kenya.

Meanwhile, the Jamaican jumping duo of Shaneika Ricketts and Kimberly Williams were third and fourth in the triple jump which was contested yesterday, the only event on in Monaco.

The event was won by World champion Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela with a leap of 14.98m ahead of Cuba's rising star Liadagmis Povea with 14.71m. Ricketts, who has been showing consistent form all season, was third with 14.67m achieved on her final jump. Williams was fourth with 14.56m, with favourite, Olympic champion, Caterine Ibarguen of Colombia surprisingly down in sixth with a best of 14.33m.

Both Ricketts and Williams qualified for the Diamond League final after three of the four events were completed. Ricketts is second in the points standing with 17 points, two adrift of leader Ibarguen on 19, with Rojas third on 15 points. Williams is fourth on 14 points ahead of Povea in fifth with 13 points. The top five have all qualifed so far.


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