Fireworks were expected and delivered midway through the four-day Jamaican Championships on Friday night (21) in Kingston.
The women’s 100m – featuring multiple Olympic gold medallists Elaine Thompson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce – was undoubtedly the most electrifying event of the first two days. Both athletes, courtesy of their 10.70 personal bests, came into the championships as joint national record-holders and tied for fourth place on the world all-time world list.
Thompson, the Olympic 100m and 200m champion, was seeking her fourth straight domestic title, while Fraser-Pryce, a two-time Olympic and three-time world champion, was looking to extend her unbeaten season. This was their third head-to-head meeting, at a national senior championship, with Thompson leading the contest 2-0. They were also up against 17-year-old Briana Williams, the double world U20 sprint champion.
Fraser-Pryce got off to her usual flying start in the final and led comfortably at the midway mark,but Thompson then began to motor and came up swiftly on Fraser-Pryce’s shoulder with 15 metres to go. Both women looked inseparable as they crossed the finish line together and although they were given identical times of 10.73, Thompson was awarded the victory by three thousandths of a second (0.726 to 0.729).
It was the first race in history in which two women have finished inside 10.75.
“I was not really surprised tonight even though my start is not yet back on track, but I am working on it,” said Thompson. “I ran 10.89 so easy in Rome and clocking 10.73 here tonight shows my top-end speed is coming back faster than I expected, but there is more room for improvement.”
Fraser-Pryce was also happy to be back near her best. “The last part of my race was a little bit choppy but that had to do with race sharpness and fitness,” she said. “I am just happy to come out here and running so close to my personal best. That is a big plus and I am looking forward to representing Jamaica again at my sixth World Championships.”
Williams, who shaved 0.01 off her national U20 record in the semi-finals, set a world U18 best of 10.94 to clinch third. “I knew this was going to be the hardest race of my life,” said an elated Williams. “I am just happy I made the team to Doha and broke 11 seconds as that was my goal all year.”
Yohan Blake, the only athlete coming into the national championships with a sub-10 performance, won the men’s 100m. The 2011 world champion was in control throughout, cruising to a season’s best of 9.96 (0.4m/s) a few strides ahead of defending champion Tyquendo Tracey (10.00) and Rasheed Dwyer (10.04).
Rushell Clayton pulled off a massive upset in the women’s 400m hurdles in a race where Olympic finalists Janieve Russell and Ristananna Tracey finished fourth and fifth respectively. Clayton, running out of lane four, made her move around the top bend and came into the straight with a handsome lead, which she increased with each stride, winning in a PB of 54.73. Shiann Salmon, the world U20 silver medallist, came through for second in 55.39, chopping 0.15 off the PB she set in the semi-finals.
The surprises continued in the men’s 400m hurdles. Kemar Mowatt took his first domestic title in 48.70, moving to fifth on the 2019 world list. Romel Lewis was a distant second in 49.46 while Jaheel Hyde, a two-time world U20 champion, followed him home in a season’s best of 49.57.
Defending champion Annsert Whyte’s World Championships aspirations ended the same way it did in 2017, with the Olympic finalist and three-time national champion failing to advance from his heat after clocking 51.02.
“I am pretty happy for the win,” said Mowatt. “My training has been inconsistent due to injury and although I’m not one to showboat but that victory meant a lot and I just expressed my joy.”
Elsewhere, Clive Pullen unseated defending champion and NCAA runner-up Jordan Scott in the men’s triple jump. Pullen bounded out to a wind-assisted 17.02m (+4.6m/s), 25 centimetres farther than Scott’s best effort of 16.77m (+4.6m/s).
National record-holder Shadae Lawrence defeated NCAA runner-up Shanice Love of Florida State University in the women’s discus. Lawrence’s fourth-round throw of 61.14m was more than two metres ahead of Love’s 59.05m effort.
“The first three rounds were not too good but I am still working on my technique as I just changed my coach last August,” said Lawrence. “I am really happy to throw 60m in this stadium which is not an easy thing to do.”
Noel Francis for the IAAF