Athletics

The writing is on the wall

Power shift in male sprinting as prominent figures fail to make World Championships team

BY DWAYNE RICHARDS
Observer writer

Saturday, June 29, 2019

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There will be some new names representing Jamaica in the male sprints at the World Championships in Doha, Qatar, in September/October this year.

For years the public has been used to names like Asafa Powell, Warren Weir, Nesta Carter and of course the legendary Usain Bolt. While Bolt is now in his second year of retirement, the likes of Weir, Powell and Carter failed to make the grade at the recently held National Championships in Kingston, and so will all be missing from a major championship for Jamaica for the first time in more than a decade.

Another familiar name that will be missing is Hansle Parchment from the men's 110m sprint hurdles. Since his bronze medal performance at the 2012 Olympic Games, Parchment has been a mainstay in the event for Jamaica, but could only manage fourth place at the championships last Sunday.

Two of the names that the public must get familiar with at this level are Andre Ewers and Orlando Bennett. Both athletes qualified for their first senior teams on Sunday in the 200m and the 110m hurdles, respectively.

Ewers, who is a student at Florida State University (FSU), finished third in the 200m final in 20.48s behind Rasheed Dwyer (20.23s) and Yohan Blake (20.27m), while Bennett, who is in his first year at the University of Technology, Jamaica, finished second behind Ronald Levy in 13.27 to claim his spot on the team.

A determined Ewers had two bites at the cherry to make the team and after disappointment in the 100m, redoubled his efforts in the 200m.

“I feel good about the race. Things never go as planned in the 100m, but one race doesn't define me, so I refocused and told myself the 200m is not missing me,” said the FSU man.

After a gruelling year on the US collegiate circuit, the main objective at Championships was just qualification, he explained.

“My main objective was top three, especially after a long collegiate season, the objective was just top three. Going into the Olympic year now (next year), the objective is to win,” said Ewers.

While things have not gone to his personal plan, the 24-year-old expressed gratitude in making his first senior team.

“What I have done is not the plan I had, but I am grateful for where I am at, especially to make my first World Championship team.”

With his time in college quickly coming to an end, Ewers will be able to fully focus on the task at hand as he prepares for Doha.

“I (will) go back to school and see what coach (Ricky Argo) has planned for me. I only have one semester (left) and most of it is online courses, so I will see how coach wants me to play that out,” he outlined.

With a season's best of 20.14 run in Jacksonville, Florida, on May 25, Ewers has met the qualification standard for the World Championships, despite missing the mark on Sunday.

While Ewers had come into the championships with high expectations, Bennett surprised himself with his own achievements on Sunday.

“First I have to give God thanks. I came out here, I was able to execute and run this fast, shocking myself. The aim initially at the starting blocks, was to just make this team, just run and make this team, that was the aim.”

The former Calabar man, who is accustomed to performing in front of large crowds, says he was not put off by the drama surrounding the women's 100m hurdles that resulted in a lengthy delay to the start of his race.

“I am the type that is always focused on my thing, so the whole atmosphere didn't really get to me, so I am just grateful right now.”

It may take some time for Bennett to come to grips with making the World Championship team just over a year after his final Boys Champs.

“Honestly, all the things that I am doing are just so incredible, right now I am lost for words but I am just grateful. I have superseded my expectations, I had no idea that I would reach 13.27s.”

With just about three months to go to Doha, Bennett will have ample time to think and also to prepare for his first major showpiece performance.

“The only way to get better is to just keep on working on my craft and just try and get better, so that's the aim,” Bennett promised.

The 2018 Champs silver medallist had lined up against an experienced field on Sunday, but said he held no fear of his opponents, some of whom have won medals at the highest level.

“I fear no one at the end of the day, the only person I fear is God, so I just came out here and just did what I had to do. My coach told me to get through the first three (hurdles) and just finish, just run straight through the line, so that's what I did.”

Ewers and Bennett are just two of the new brigade set to represent Jamaica this year.


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