(Updated 11 September 2006)
Sherone SIMPSON, Jamaica (100m)
Born 12 August 1984
Coach: Stephen Francis
Hotel Tourism and Management student at Kingston’s University of Technology
Four years ago she was the fourth string among Jamaica’s junior sprinters, but within a year, after joining Stephen Francis at MVP Track Club, Sherone Simpson broke loose.
Simpson, who ran 12.54 in 2000, but entered MVP/University of Technology (UTech) as an 11.37 athlete in 2004, has raced up the ranks of Jamaica’s sprinting. In six years, she moved from ‘nowhere’ to become Jamaica’s second fastest woman, improving by 1.72 seconds to a career best of 10.82 seconds, second only to Merlene Ottey (10.74).
Born in Devon, a small district in Manchester, a Central parish of the island, Simpson first attended Christiana Leased Primary where she used to run around the schoolyard at lunchtime.
Charles Fuller, former Jamaica Amateur Athletics Association (JAAA) executive and Manchester High Track & field team manager in the 90’s, recalls, “I met Simpson at Kirkvine Sports Club in Manchester when she was 12, running for Christiana Leased Primary and Pasley Lyn and I convinced her to attend Manchester.” What caught his eye was the similarity between Simpson and Olympic 200m silver medallist Grace Jackson, the long legs and slim build.
At Manchester High Simpson never won an individual race at the National High Championships. Although she was part of the team which won the Class Four (Under-13) sprint relay in 1997.
She made a name for herself at the 2002 World Junior Championships after giving Jamaica a tremendous start in the women’s 4x100m relay. After a long debate among the coaching staff, it was finally decided to select her over Nadine Palmer, but after the starter’s gun went, the coaches were left wondering if they made the right decision, as she was indeed first out of the blocks, but recalled for false start. However, on the second time of asking, Simpson held her nerves to give Jamaica a very good start, which resulted in a gold medal and a national junior record.
In 2003, she finished second at the Pan American Junior Championships in Barbados and helped her team to silver in the sprint relay, in her final year as a junior.
In 2004, Paul Francis, brother of Stephen, recruited her at UTech. Simpson turned down a US college scholarship to joint Powell and Brigitte Foster-Hylton at the UTech-based MVP Camp and as with Asafa Powell, coach Stephen Francis’ magic took charge.
The first sign of greatness came in the Dominican Republic when she won the 100m event at the Felix Sanchez Invitational in 11.01 seconds, weeks after running 11.2 at the Gibson Relays in Kingston.
Simpson later went on to book a place on Jamaica’s Olympic team with a second place finish at the National Championships. Though she failed to break the 11 seconds barrier in 2004, she went on to make the final and finish sixth at the Athens Olympic in 11.09 seconds.
She is the only athlete who was a member of both the Junior and Senior National sprint relay record quartets. At the 2002 World Juniors, she ad teamed up with Kerron Stewart, Anneisha McLaughlin and Simone Facey to set a new age record of 43.40 and in 2004, at the Athens Olympics, she formed alliance with Tayna Lawrence, Aleen Bailey and Veronica Campbell for the senior record of 41.73. On both occasions, Jamaica won its first sprint relay gold medal at those events.
Simpson is also the youngest Jamaican Olympic gold medallist and the youngest Jamaican woman in an Olympic 100m Final.
In 2005, she broke the 11 seconds barrier once, running 10.97 for second behind Veronica Campbell at the National Championships, and again had to settle for sixth at the World Championships. She did, however, help Jamaica to second in the sprint relay.
After reaching the finals at the Olympics (2004) and the World Championships (2005), Simpson is enjoying by far her best season in 2006. Not only because she defeated Olympic 200m champion Veronica Campbell twice (the first time in winning the Commonwealth title) not because she beat Sydney triple gold medallist Marion Jones (twice) and World 200m champion Allyson Felix, but because she broke a few barriers.
She has confirmed her class, first with the Commonwealth Games 200m title, then with the national sprint double titles. It was at the National Championships in June that Simpson ran 10.82 seconds, the fastest in the world since Bulgaria’s Ivet Lalova’s 10.77 performance in 2004. It ranked her as the joint 12th fastest woman ever.
In the 200m, Simpson’s personal best of 22.00, which she clocked twice this season, (slashing her previous best of 22.54) now places her fourth on the Jamaican all-time list behind Merlene Ottey (21.64), Grace Jackson (21.72), and Juliet Cuthbert (21.75).
Simpson not only leads the performances lists in both sprints this year, but also completed a very successful Golden League campaign, winning four out of the six IAAF Golden League 100m races, just missing out on a share of the US$500,000 jackpot split between athletes who recorded five wins.
After running 11.30 to finish behind Bahamian Debbie Ferguson (11.22) in Oslo and 10.98 behind American Marion Jones (10.92) in Paris Saint-Denis, Simpson bounced back with four consecutive victories. She first beat Jones at the Golden Gala in Rome (10.87 to the American’s 10.91) then posted three wins over Me’Lisa Barber cocking 11.09, 10.95 and 10.92 to beat her rival in Zurich, Brussels and Berlin respectively.
Elsewhere on the Grand Prix Circuit, Simpson ran 11.00 to win at the Norwich Union London Grand Prix, while finishing second behind Barber (11.08) in 11.12 at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene. Her 200m races were also impressive, and as she repeated her 22.00 recorded at the Jamaica National Championships at DN Galan in Stockholm in July.
At the World Athletics Final in Stuttgart, she was Jamaica’s lone female winner. On the first day, Simpson, who got off to a slow start, never recovered and was beaten into third place at 200m. She finished in 22.22 behind Alison Felix (22.11) and Sanya Richards (22.17).
She bounced back from her 200m defeat the following day to beat Americans Torri Edwards and Felix and win the 100m in 10.86 seconds, the second fastest time this season.
Simpson’s victory in Germany, her sixth sub-11 clocking, is only bettered by Ottey’s 11 sub-11 seconds in 1991 as a Jamaican.
With these performances, and with the chance to gain further points at the World Cup and in her final effort this season at the Yokohama meet on September 24th, Simpson looks certain to end the year as the IAAF top ranked athlete in both the 100m and 200m Event Rankings.
She currently leads the 100m standings with 1382 points, ahead of Barber (1340) and the 200m with 1310 ahead of Kim Gevaert of Belgium (1308), while in the Overall Rankings she climbed three places after the World Athletics Final up to 4th with 1389 points behind Ethiopians Meseret Defar (1397) and Tirunesh Dibaba (1394) and American Sanya Richards (1394).
Yearly progression: 2000 - 12.54; 2001 - 12.17 / 25.01; 2002 - 11.60 / 24.21; 2003 - 11.37 / 23.60; 2004 - 11.01 / 22.70; 2005 – 10.97 / 22.54; 2006 - 10.82 / 22.0
2002 – 1st 4x100m World Junior Championships
2003 – 2nd 100m Pan American Championships
2004 – 1st 4x100m Olympic Games
2004 – 6th 100m Olympic Games
2005 – 2nd 4x100m World Championships; 6th 100m
2006 – 1st 200m, Commonwealth Games
2006 – 1st 100m, 200m, National Championships
2006 – 1st 100m World Athletics Final
2006 – 3rd 100m World Athletics Final
Prepared by Anthony Foster for the IAAF Focus on Athletes project. © IAAF 2006.