Chasing history - Thomas-Dodd, Jackson, McPherson look to make mark in Doha
When quarter-milers Shericka Jackson and Stephenie-Ann McPherson line up in the women’s 400m final at the World Championships tonight, not only will they be looking to continue a rich tradition, but they will also be chasing history for Jamaica.
Also looking to bother the history-keepers will be shot put standout Danniel Thomas-Dodd, who underlined her medal credentials by topping all qualifiers with a 19.32m effort heading into today’s final, which takes place at the Khalifa Stadium at 10:35 p.m. (2:35 p.m. Jamaica time).
Thomas-Dodd, the national record holder in the event, produced her best throw on her last attempt and will take the circle today with strong chances of delivering Jamaica’s first medal in the women’s shot put event at the World Championships or Olympics level.
Beijing 2015 bronze medallist O’Dayne Richards is the only Jamaican to ever medal in the shot put at a senior global outdoor championship.
“I am really happy with the distance, however, I could have tried and got over the automatic qualifying mark in the first two throws,” Thomas-Dodd told The Gleaner. “I was a bit nervous after I did not get it (automatic qualifying mark of 18.40m) in the first two throws, but I had to hold my composure, hold the technique, and do what I have been doing in practice, and that is what I did and I was able to get one out there.”
Going this close to her personal best of 19.55m, which she got on her way to winning gold at the PanAm Games recently, is a great indicator for Thomas-Dodd, who lost out on a bronze medal on the very last throw of the competition at the 2017 World Championships final in London.
“It’s a huge motivating factor. I am very close to my personal best, so it does say a lot about the kind of shape I am in. This sport is a very mental sport, so the body can feel one way, but you have to get the mind up to where the body is, and that’s where I am. I have to get back, rest up, get my mind right, and, hopefully, tomorrow (today) I can put one together,” Thomas-Dodd added before speaking to that 2017 final.
“Two years ago, I did miss out on the medal on my final throw, but this time around, I think I am in a better place mentally, and it has shown over the season how consistent I have been. I just have to stay mentally focused, and once I manage to do that and I can get a throw together, then the distance will eventually come,” said Thomas-Dodd.
Meanwhile, only one country has had more success than Jamaica in the women’s 400m in the history of the World Championships, with the island’s nine medals (4 silver and 5 bronze) only bettered by the United States’ 11.
However, despite the country’s impressive legacy in the event, no Jamaican has ever won a World Championships gold medal in the women’s quarter-mile.
That’s the ambition of the Jamaican pair of Shericka Jackson and Stephenie-Ann McPherson, who will line up in tonight’s final at 11:50 p.m. (3:50 p.m.)
Both have played their role in that legacy, boasting bronze medals from the 2013 (McPherson) and 2015 (Jackson) World Championships. Interestingly, both athletes posted 49.99 seconds for their medals – there’s a good trivia question in that.
Jackson’s 49.78 personal best, which was posted at the National Senior Championships in June, makes her the third fastest woman here, while McPherson comes in after running her best time this season, 50.70 seconds, on her way to winning her semi-final.
They will have to, however, find a way past Bahamian juggernaut Shaunae Miller-Uibo, who has looked unbeatable after going 49.05 this season and cruising to 49.66 in her semi-final. Also favoured for a top-two position is Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser, who also looked convincing after following up her 49.17 season’s best with a 49.79 semi-final showing.
Olympic champion Omar McLeod missed out on a medal after falling in the 110m hurdles final after hitting hurdle eight.
The event was won by American Grant Holloway in 13.10 seconds ahead of Sergey Shubenkov, 13.15, and France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, 13.18.
McLeod was in second place and gaining on Holloway when he suffered a hamstring injury, which broke his stride and sent him crashing into the eighth hurdle, before losing his balance and falling to the ground. In falling, he impeded Spaniard Orlando Ortega, who ended up finishing fifth, resulting in a disqualification for the apologetic Jamaican.
Earlier in the semis, McLeod secured the only Jamaican spot in the final after Ronald Levy’s disqualification and with Andrew Riley (13.57) and Orlando Bennett (13.60) failing to progress after fifth and sixth place finishes in their races.
National champion Rushell Clayton is through to the 400m hurdles final after a 54.17 seconds win in her heat, the third fastest time going into the final. Young Shiann Salmon, 55.16, produced her second personal best run at the championships but missed the final after her third-place finish in the semis.
Jamaicans Akeem Bloomfield, competing in his first World Championships, as well as national champion Demish Gaye are both through to the 400m final after both finished third in their respective semis.
Gaye clocked a season’s best 44.66 seconds, with Bloomfield posting 44.77, as both advanced to the medal round as non-automatic qualifiers.
Aisha Praught-Leer’s introduction to the 1500m at this level was a rough one as she could only manage a seventh-place finish in her heat and a time of 4:09.81, which was not good enough to get her into the next round.