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Williams, Pinnock gold medals highlight Juniors' Friday night frolic

Observer writer

Sunday, July 21, 2019

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — Jamaica won nine medals — two gold, three silver and four bronze — on Friday's first evening of the 20th Pan-American Under-20 Championships at the National Stadium in San Jose, Costa Rica, with the now-dependable Briana Williams and Wayne Pinnock landing gold medals late on the day.

Williams, who won earlier this year at the CARIFTA Games and set an NACAC Under-18 record two weeks ago in Mexico, would have signed off her junior career on a high, if this was her final championships as a junior, with a brilliant run.

She got off to her usual fast start and held on to win in 11.38 seconds (-1.4m/s), far from the sub 11.00 seconds time she was expecting and just holding off two Americans, Thelma Davies (11.39 seconds) and Brandee Presley (11.41 seconds).

Kemba Nelson, the second Jamaican in the final, did not finish the race and was taken off in a wheelchair with what is believed to be a hamstring injury. Depending on the severity of the injury, the coaching staff will have to find a replacement for her on the 4x100m relay team.

Williams told the Jamaica Observer after her race that she felt “amazing”, adding, “I came out here with a little bit of a tight hamstring so I was glad to be able to win.”

In cooler-than-expected conditions, a threat of rain, and with sudden gusts of wind the Jamaicans surpassed the total from the previous staging two years ago in Peru despite missing out in a few events, including the men's discus throw where Kai Chang was expected to finish on the podium.

Pinnock won the gold medal on countback as he and American Phillip Austin III both had 7.82m marks, but he had the better series with his second -and third-best jumps being superior.

Pinnock achieved his mark in the first round while Austin III got his in the final round, but the Jamaican also had a 7.81m (-0.6m/s) on his second attempt and 7.79m in the fifth round, while the American's next best was a wind-aided 7.63m (2.8m/s) in the fourth round.

Shaquille Lowe got the bronze with a wind-aided 7.47m (4.1m/s) after fouling his first attempt.

The men's 100m final lived up to expectations as American Matthew Boling just got to the line ahead of the two Jamaicans, Oblique Seville — 10.21 seconds (0.5m/s) and Michael Stephens —10.34 seconds.

Boling, nicknamed White Lightning in the American media, ran a personal best 10.11 seconds for the win.

It was a “humbling” feeling for Head Coach Michael McIntosh, who said the job had just gotten underway as they had more work to do.

“We expected a little more in some areas, but two gold medals in back-to-back events, two medals in the men's 100m, and a big, big second personal best on the day from (400m runner) Bovel McPherson which, to me, was the run of the day — we just have to continue pushing and pushing and see where we end up,” he said.

Shantae Foreman, better known for her high jump exploits, won the silver in her first time representing Jamaica in the long jump with a mark of 6.13m (0.8m/s).

Sixteen-year-old Foreman who had just two legal jumps, led after the first round before she was passed by American Claire Bryant with a jump of 6.15m (0.7m/s) on the final attempt, as the Jamaican fouled all three jumps in the final.

Another American, Ijeyikowoicho Onah, took the bronze with 6.09m (1.2m/s) while Lotavia Brown, the second Jamaican in the final, was eighth with a best mark of 5.43m (-2.8m/s).

Earlier in the afternoon Bovel McPherson won a surprise silver in the men's 400m by running 45.97 seconds, his second personal best of the day as Anthony Cox, a medal favourite, was fourth in 46.12 seconds.

Ackera Nugent was second in the 100m hurdles in 13.37 seconds (0.6m/s), and Akeem Cargill was third in the men's 110m hurdles in windy 13.56 seconds (2.7m/s).

After Friday night's events, Jamaica were third on the medals tables behind leaders the United States, who had 20 medals — eight gold, seven silver and five bronze — followed by Canada with six medals made up of four gold and two silver.

Jamaica will be seeking to add to the tally of medals on today's final day of competition with five more finals — both 400m hurdles, the men's shot put, triple jump and high jump, plus the two 4x400m relays.

Raymond Richards is a medal contender in the men's high jump but the Jamaicans could be up against the might of the region in the men's shot put and triple jump events.

Cobe Graham and Ralford Mullings will contest the shot put where two Americans, Otito Ogbonnia and Joshua Sobota, will come into the competition with marks over 20.00m this season and with at least two other competitors also over the 19.00-metre mark.

Terrol Wilson and Apalos Edwards should make the final of the triple jump where Cuba's world leader, Andy Eugenio Hecheverria Salazar will start favourite to win.