Jamaica’s female athletes won three medals, highlighted by Tiffany James one-lap gold, in the flat events and relays at the 2016 World U20 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland. Two years on, the prospects look good for them to equal that output in Tampere, Finland. The Sporting Dimension assesses the chances of each Jamaican athlete expected to compete in these disciplines.
16-year-old Briana Williams (11.13 SB/PB) is a solid pick for a medal in her pet event. (Of the listed entrants, only America’s Twanisha Terry, who could be below her 10.99 second best due to the rigours of a long collegiate season, owns a faster seasonal or personal best.) The compact Florida-based speedster will be partnered in the event by national junior champion Ockera Myrie. Myrie, who’s enjoyed a meteoric rise this season, is a probable finalist.
The 200m is where the injury-induced absence of sprint starlet Kevona Davis (22.72 SB/PB) is likely to be felt most acutely. Nonetheless, Williams (23.11 SB/PB) and Myrie (23.31 SB/PB) should represent well. Williams should make the final, while Myrie could join her there. Consistent sub-23 second American collegian Lauren Rain Williams looks the pre-event favourite. Australian rising star Riley Day, who ran 22.93 seconds into a 1.7 metre per second headwind back in February, is another one to watch.
St. Elizabeth Tech’s Stacey-Ann Williams (53.11 SB) is the nation’s sole entrant in the one-lap event. If the depth is the same as back then, the 19-year-old will probably need to get back into 52-mid personal best territory to claim a lane in the final. India’s Commonwealth Games finalist Hima Das (51.13 SB/PB) is the fastest in the field.
Both the versatile Shaquena Foote (2:05.79 SB/PB) and Chrissani May (2:07.49 SB/PB) have revised their personal bests multiple times this season. 16-year-old Foote has been particularly prolific in this regard, slashing hers by over three seconds. One hopes for more of the same in Tampere. Realistically, though, it will take a herculean effort for either to make the final. American Caitlin Collier (2:00.85 SB/PB) is the fastest in the field based on 2018 performances. Her countrywoman and defending champion Sammy Watson will be a tough nut to crack in a tactical race, though.
Back in March, it appeared as if there would be a legitimate opportunity for Jamaica to go toe-to-toe with the mighty United States in the sprint relay. Alas, a series of unfortunate events has probably put paid to that possibility. Enough quality and depth still remain for the Black, Green, and Gold to make the final, though. In fact, a quartet of Williams, Myrie, Fredricka McKenzie, and Kemba Nelson/Ackera Nugent/Kimone Shaw should, with efficient passing, still be able to muster a medal. Germany and Great Britain are other teams with the requisite depth to challenge.
Stacey-Ann Williams attracted the ire of many Jamaicans two years ago when, with the team solidly in gold medal contention, she inexplicably ran her entire leg in lane two, allowing the United States to overtake and build up an insurmountable lead. Her quest for redemption will be aided by 400-metre hurdler Shiann Salmon, who is the fastest Jamaican junior on the year at 52.05 seconds, and half-miler Foote, who won the national title a few weeks ago. Janielle Josephs is likely to complete the final quartet. A medal is definitely on. The gold, however, is the USA’s to lose.
* Image courtesy of the IAAF