As the conquest for the ÅF Golden League Jackpot began today on a sunny afternoon at the Berlin Olympic Stadium, a pair of Caribbean sprinters who have made an impressive start of the season continued their winning ways by taking the men’s and women’s 100m A races respectively.
22-year-old Daniel Bailey of Antigua and Barbuda defeated the rest of the field at the ISTAF Golden League meeting in 10.03, his third fastest of the year following his national record breaking 9.99 set in Brazil three weeks ago and his 10.02 runner up at the Kingston invitational over a month ago.
In the women’s race, Olympic silver medallist Kerron Stewart, the season’s World leader, was the class of the field winning in 11 seconds flat, for the Jamaican too it’s her third fastest of the year.
Stewart - making the team first!
But similarities don’t end with the statistic data between Bailey and Stewart as both draw their talent in the Caribbean island that stole the show at the latest Olympic Games in Beijing: Jamaica.
Of course, Stewart was born in Kingston and although she has moved to Auburn, USA to train under the guidance of High School coach Henry Rolle, she has been part of the national’s sprinting pride since winning the 2001 IAAF World Youth Championships silver medal behind Allyson Felix.
Now 25 years old, Stewart was the only other Jamaican other than World record holder Usain Bolt to win two individual medals in Beijing last year as she also grabbed bronze in the 200m final.
“After the Olympic Games last year, the attention we were given was overwhelming. I had never seen anything like that in the world,” said Stewart after her convincing victory in Berlin today.
“Today was a good race,” the Jamaican analysed. “I made a couple of technical mistakes but it was ok. I just pray that it all continues like this and I remain healthy.
“The World Championships is my first goal this year; every other thing will just fall into place after that. I have put in so much hard work that I now expect great thing from myself.”
On the road to the Berlin World Championships, lie the Jamaican Track and Field Trials which, with arguably the deepest female sprinters national field assembled in the last decades, may prove to be the hardest obstacle which separate Stewart from her global ambitions.
“My next race will be Trials and my next goal is to make the team; then I will aim at making the final at World Champs and then a medal. I have to take it one step at a time.”
Asked whether she will double again this season, Stewart ponders a few seconds and then reveals: “I’m not sure. Coming off the Beijing Olympics I was so bunged up. I mean all those rounds…it was not easy.”
Although the Beijing experience can be described as successful for Stewart who was making her first Olympic appearance, she herself admits that she has yet to come to terms with her runner up finish in the shorter dash.
"I have watched my 200m race but I am not ready to watch the 100 tape. I have to get over it first...I had so much ground to make up, I think that race shows just how badly I wanted that medal..."
Stewart, who like Veronica Campbell Brown moved from her native Jamaica to pursue her athletics career in the US, credits her latest success to her motivation and dedication in training.
“I met my coach when I went to College in the US and he is the right person. I miss home a lot and I don’t get many chances to travel back home but I have to stay where I’m comfortable. I am where I have to be for my athletics career.
“Nothing that I do I credit to luck. I have a god given talent and I just love track and field. I want to see the sport excel, I want it to be the best sport in the world and I would like to be part of that legacy. I would like for people to turn back and say she was part of track and field history…”
Bailey - training with Bolt helps!
For Bailey, Jamaica is home too! The national record holder of Antigua and Barbuda has been training in Kingston with Glen Mills and Usain Bolt for some time now. Although he did not make it past the quarter finals at the Beijing Olympic Games, Bailey has dramatically improved and broken the 10-second barrier for the first time in his career this season and for his first appearance on the Golden League circuit scored a convincing victory.
“This feels good, a great start. I came to win not for a big time. I just came off the flu so it was important to win. This is my first Golden League meeting and my first win at a Golden League meeting so it makes me happy. I think I will recover and be good for the next couple of races.”
Beside his national record, Bailey also clocked a win assisted 9.93 in Spanish town, Jamaica where he pushed his training partner Usain Bolt all the way to the wire. A race which Bolt commented about saying: “I did not like it!”
“Training with Bolt helped a lot,” Bailey explained. “I mean training with the fastest man in the world is something great.”
Having found great expertise in Jamaica and under the coaching of Glen Mills, Bailey has high expectations for the rest of the season.
“I am looking forward to the World Championships. I like competing and for me it’s a big motivation. Now I know what the track feels like and my aim is to make it to the final.
“I know I can go faster, I am not worrying about what this or this other guy does. I don’t like to predict time either but it would be nice to be in the top three next time I run in Berlin!”
Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF