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Jamaica’s giants of track and field


THOUGH THE 50-member team didn’t deliver the 12-medal haul predicted, Jamaica did very well at the 13th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, hosted by the South Korean city of Daegu.

Individual wins for Yohan Blake, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Usain Bolt led the way, with a silver medal effort by Melaine Walker not far off the pace. Campbell-Brown left Daegu with three medals – one gold and two silver – and approximately US$98,000 in prize money to be Jamaica’s top female performer.

After being a close second in the 100 metres, VCB took the 200m in 22.22 seconds to gain one of the last two major titles that have slipped through her grasp.

The Olympic 100m crown is the only major she hasn’t won in a senior career that began with relay silver in 2000.

Her Korean endeavours ended with another 4x100m relay silver. A cautious final exchange sent her off in pursuit of 100m winner Carmelita Jeter of the USA.

Campbell-Brown chased in vain but carried Jamaica to a national record time of 41.70 with Jeter and the Americans clear at 41.56 seconds.

No official splits are available but this writer timed VCB and Jeter in 9.9 and 10 seconds flat, respectively.
As a benchmark, those figures can be compared to the 9.83 anchor hustled by Ottey at the 1996 Olympics.

Kerron Stewart – 100m/200m, Sherone Simpson – 200m, Kaliese Spencer – 400m hurdles, Shericka Williams – 400m, Novlene Williams-Mills – 400m and Kenia Sinclair – 800m also made their respective finals but none came close to Walker’s silver medal achievement.

To the eye, it was a superb display of pace judgement. On the clock, it was the third fastest of Walker’s great career, her third trip below the 53 seconds barrier and the third fastest ever by a Jamaican.

Williams deserves some credit too. Far out of the top ten on performances this year, the Olympic and world silver medallist set a seasonal best to get to the 400m final and blasted to a 49.22 second anchor leg – the fastest of the meet – to cap the national record run in the women’s 4x400m final. Bolt and Blake left Daegu with two gold medals apiece, US$60,000 each for their individual wins and equal shares of the prize money for winning and setting a 4x100m relay world record. That could amount to over US$100,000.


The 21 year-old Blake kept his cool in the mayhem that arose after Bolt’s false start in the 100m and grabbed the gold.
Had a persistent opposing wind disappeared, his time of 9.92 seconds would have been under 9.9. As proof, he set a personal best of 9.82 in windless conditions a week later in Zurich.

Even that performance wouldn’t have counterbalanced Bolt’s monumental run in the 200 metres.

While 9.82 is the joint 27th fastest time in the history of the 100m, Bolt blasted home in 19.40 seconds. Only world records by the man himself and 1996 Olympic champion Michael Johnson are faster.

MONUMENTAL: Bolt's 200m performance

By comparison, the best time by 2007 world champion Tyson Gay, history’s third fastest 200 metres man, is 19.58 seconds. Xavier Carter, Wallace Spearmon, Frank Fredericks and Daegu runner-up Walter Dix are at 19.63, 19.65, 19.68 and 19.69 respectively. That gives Bolt the edge and made him Jamaica’s top man in Daegu.

Blake was great on the third leg of the 4x100m where Bolt ran a storming anchor leg to finish a run started by Nesta Carter and Michael Frater. Jamaica now has the three fastest times ever run in the event.

Carter, 400m runner Jermaine Gonzales and Dwight Thomas, all reached their respective finals, though Carter was affected by cramp in the 100m final. Sadly, a hamstring bother stopped Thomas early in the 110 metres hurdles final. Who was Jamaica’s MVP in Daegu – VCB or Bolt? VCB won more medals but Bolt’s medals were both golden and were obtained by marvellous performances.

Narrow it down to their individual events and the medal count is 2-1 to Veronica. That probably is the only way to divide these two giants of Jamaica’s track and field.

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