Tue | Mar 2, 2021

Distant memory from Doha

Published:Thursday | September 11, 2014 | 12:00 AM

TRY TO recall when last Kaliese Spencer lost a 400-metre hurdles race. It's a distant memory.

At the Doha Diamond League meet in May, 2009 World Champion Lashinda Demus of the United States faded down the stretch and Kemi Adekoya of Bahrain slid through to win from lane one. That was the last time Spencer lost a hurdles race.

Second in Doha, the leggy Jamaican has been undefeated since then. Her masterful National Championships win was achieved in 53.41 seconds, which is the fastest in the world this year. That paved the way for gold at the Commonwealth Games, our first ever in the women's event in that discipline.

Her dominant displays produced eight of the 10 fastest times of the year so far.

Even better, Spencer has refined her race tactics. In times past, she'd be out early and out of gas early. Now, she paces herself so well that she is always full of run over hurdles eight, nine and 10.

With World Champion Zuzana Hejnova likely to be 100 per cent next year, success isn't guaranteed. But with her new race plan polished, Spencer can go to Beijing for the 2015 World Championships with confidence.

By comparison, Spencer has run three times under 54 seconds this year, with the average of her top 10 times rounding out to 54.242. The corresponding figures for Hejnova's 2013 season are nine sub 53 clockings and 53.479 seconds.

As the 2014 Diamond League champion, Spencer is guaranteed a spot in Beijing. Perhaps the Stephen Francis-coached star will reach her stated goal of winning the Worlds and the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

That's in the future.

For now, even with the season not quite over, Spencer is the clear choice for Jamaican Female Athlete of the Year. She has been supreme.

She won for Jamaica at the Commonwealth Games. With her times and Diamond League wins in Eugene, Rome, Oslo, Monaco, Birmingham and Brussels, she is clearly the world number one.

If things run true to form, she will certainly win her event at this week's Continental Cup as well.

Veronica Campbell-Brown (VCB) may have won the Diamond League 100-metre title, but has not been as dominant. While Spencer won at the Commonwealth Games, VCB lost to the impressive Nigerian, Blessing Okagbare.

Campbell-Brown is 2-1 over Okagbare in the 100m.

It will be interesting to see how the world-ranking people slice and dice that one when the time comes.

They will have to calculate the relative merit of injury-affected breakthrough seasons of American Tori Bowie and Trinidad and Tobago's Michelle-Lee Ahye. The American newcomer, a former long jumper, and Ahye, a 2010 Carifta 100m winner, each looked like world number one at different points in the season, although they never met.

Even more interesting will be Spencer's form in 2015. She was fourth at the World Championships in Berlin and Daegu in 2009 and 2011, respectively, and in 2012 at the London Olympics.

If 2014 is any guide, those fourth-place finishes will become a distant memory, too.

Hubert Lawrence has scrutinised athletics since 1980.