Tue | Jul 17, 2018

Orville Higgins | Ten talking points from trials

Published:Friday | June 30, 2017 | 12:00 AM

The national senior track and field trials are now behind us, and I would like to look at the top 10 talking points, in no particular order.

Omar McLeod's 12.90 run in the 110m hurdles was the performance of the meet. He removed Hansle Parchment's national record of 12.94 and is now the fifth-fastest man in history. He is probably Jamaica's best bet for a gold medal in London this summer, having run the four fastest times in the world this year. If he refines his technique, Aries Merritt's world record of 12.80 could go.

Calabar's Dejour Russell was sensational over that same distance. His fourth-place finish might have been one of the best performances by a 17-year-old at our senior trials in many moons. Among his scalps were former national champion Andrew Riley, as well as Rio Olympic semi-finalist Deuce Carter. Based on what he did in the trials, he is poised to be one of our bright stars.

Elaine Thompson's 10.71 was awesome, and it seems she will be running only against the clock in London. That was a mere one-hundredth of a second outside the national record she holds with Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and she seems on course to run 10.6. Of course, the discussions will continue as to why she didn't double. I trust Stephen Francis and figure that he knows what he's doing.

Another talking point was the withdrawal of both Veronica Campbell-Brown and Kerron Stewart. It is the first time since 2000 that none of Stewart, Campbell-Brown, Sherone Simpson or Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce will be on a Jamaican team at a global championships. If there is any doubt that there is a changing of the guard, the absence of any member of that fabulous quartet should demonstrate that clearly.


Victims of injury


Injuries are never far away in track and field, but it appears we were seeing more than our fair share. Asafa Powell, Kemar Bailey-Cole, Jevaughn Minzie, Odean Skeen and VCB were all victims of injury. Is that mere coincidence, or is there more to it than meets the eye?

Yohan Blake's win in the sprint double was commendable. With Bolt on his last hurrah, Yohan is positioning himself to be the premier sprinter in the world. His 9.90 and his 19.97 in the 100m and 200m, respectively, were good, but not spectacular. He doesn't need to do any more at this stage, though. His focus is really on London, and it's my bet that he will take the double there, too.

We can't look back at trials without talking about that controversial false start of sprinter Jonielle Smith. I don't care what the IAAF says. I don't see why somebody should be charged for a false start without their hands leaving the ground. Smith was the last person to leave the blocks. The whole point of citing somebody for a false start is if they gain an unfair jump on the field. If I'm last out of the blocks, I should be allowed to run, despite whatever rule I was deemed to have broken. I'm not blaming the starters, who played by the rules, about easing off the pressure plate. I'm simply saying the false-start rule needs to be reviewed.

Not so long ago, Jamaica struggled to find quality quarter-milers. Now, there is an encouraging crop emerging. Nathon Allen and Demish Gaye lived up to expectations, with both running sub-45 seconds. Add a fit 'Donkey Man' Francis and Rusheen McDonald at his best and we should be able to do well in this event down the road.

We couldn't conclude this flashback on our senior trials without sending kudos to Sprintec-G.C. Foster College coach Maurice Wilson. At last count, he had 10 athletes who will make the plane to London, outstripping senior coaches such as Glen Mills and Stephen Francis. Wilson made a name for himself as one of the finest coaches ever at the high-school level when he was at Holmwood a few years ago. He is now demonstrating that he is one of the top coaches in the region. Full stop.

Finally, we must big up Fedrick Dacres. He is Mr Consistent, and may just be the first Jamaican to win a throwing event at the World Championships. There are exciting days ahead.

- Orville Higgins is a sportscaster and talk-show host at KLAS ESPN Sports FM. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.