Did we give away our women's 400m gold medal?Friday, July 30, 2021
This one has been stuck in my craw for well over a month, so I might as well get it out now.
What were those extremely knowledgeable, highly competent folks at the MVP Track and Field Club thinking when they gave away Jamaica's surest gold medal of the Tokyo Olympics by pulling Shericka Jackson from the 400 metres — the softest event on the schedule? They didn't even bother to enter her in her pet event at the Olympic trials. Instead, they gambled all their money on her winning medals in the 100m and 200m in Tokyo.
There are no certainties in life, sports, or the stock market; however, we can make decisions based on high probabilities. Two were right before our eyes before our Olympic trials: 1) 2019 400 metres world champion Salwa Eid Nasser (Bahrain) was under suspension for a whereabouts violation and unlikely to win her appeal. She has now been suspended and won't be in Tokyo. 2) All the talk in athletics circles was that Rio Olympics 400m gold medallist Shaunae Miller-Uibo would opt for the 200m instead of the 400m because of the scheduling conflict in Tokyo.
And who were the two women who denied Jackson the gold in the 2019 Doha World Athletics Championships? Nasser and Miller-Uibo.
Now Jackson challenges our Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson Herah, Britain's Dina Asher-Smith, and others for a medal in the 100m, plus Miller-Uibo and American Gabby Thomas in the 200m. While she has an outside chance of a 100m medal, I do not see her on the podium in this very hot 200m field.
And what of the 400m? American Quanera Hayes won the US trials in an underwhelming 49.78s, followed by the 39-year-old mommy, Allyson Felix, running her “las lap” before retirement in a pedestrian 50.02s.
Our best bet now is the ever-improving Stephenie Ann McPherson who won the event in 49.61s at trials. But Jackson, with her vast 400m experience plus new-found speed, as shown in the 100m and 200m, and a personal best of 49.47s, would have been a cinch to take the gold. At the very least, MVP could have entered her at the trials; she would certainly have finished in the top three. They could then use the results to help them make a decision about which events she would compete in at the Tokyo Games.
I'm not sure of the details and deadlines for the relay pool, but let's hope a way can be found for Jackson to anchor the 4x400m relay and perhaps recoup the gold medal we have given away. With Omar McLeod unfortunately and regrettably out after his Olympic trials catastrophe, we can ill afford to give up any more potential gold medals.
Errol W A Townshend
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