Sat | Sep 23, 2017

Look out for Elaine Thompson

Published:Tuesday | June 23, 2015 | 6:00 AMLaurie Foster
University of Technology's Elaine Thompson

Track & Field aficionados zero in on the National Stadium later this week - Thursday to Sunday - seeking what could be a changing of the guard in Jamaica's athletics arena.

There is no doubt that the Buckingham Palace event with the same title, one of London, England's major tourist attractions, generates scenes of sparkle and is a spectacular showpiece of pomp and pageantry. This, the Senior National Championships, doubling as the Beijing World Champs Trials, cannot attempt to match, neither in longevity nor appeal. However, there will be no shortage of testing moments, thrills, and titivating competition to moisten the palate in anticipation of the late-night, early-morning action that the 13-hour time difference Jamaica: China will offer come late August.

However, a major concern among supporters who are due to flock the competition arena at the end of June is that Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and her male sprint counterpart Usain Bolt, the phenom, may not appear. This is so as being both defending double sprint world champions, they can skip qualifying action. How much of a limiting factor to crowd presence and pleasure will this be? Foster's Fairplay sought out a regular patron to perish the concerns that the head count could be diminished.

Woman Constable Sasha Mullings-Hyatt, looking fit for the Gucci/Calvin Klein catwalk as she adorned the stage of the recent Jamaica Constabulary Force Athletics Championships, disagrees. Describing herself to an eager-to-engage Foster's Fairplay as an athlete in her own right, and a junior member to 2008 Olympics 100m silver medallist Sherone Simpson on a Manchester High School Champs team, she revealed, "I will not be disappointed at all if Fraser-Pryce and Bolt do not show. I support all my Jamaican athletes. As an athlete, I understand that we have our ups and downs, hence no disappointment. The competition will really be in Beijing when we go up against competitors from other countries. Love my Jamaican athletes - all of them."

A Fraser-Pryce-less women's 100m final might be appealing to an effervescent Sasha, given her all-embracing position with the country's athletes. However, there will be patrons in those stands wanting more. They pack in to see supreme speed. Nothing less will do. From where will that electrifying input come? Spare a thought for the new female sprinting sensation, Elaine Thompson.

 

luck on holiday

The University of Technology (UTech) student-athlete is from, quoting track and field super statistician Hubert Lawrence, "the hilly area of Banana Ground in Manchester". This columnist's guest, Sasha, was quick to point out the location of this unknown district. Lawrence, his feel for the sport unparalleled, continued, "Elaine was a double-sprint finalist in Class Two for Manchester High School.''

This was under the guidance of senior coach Jerry Holness. Her luck went on holiday in her first year in Class One - eliminated in the first round of the 200 metres.

She has been twice the Intercol 100m winner - in 2014 and 2015 - and was the runner-up in 2013 to Carrie Russell. Lawrence describes her as " a hidden gem".

High school coach Holness remembers vividly, "Elaine came to Manchester High School September 2007 as a first-year Class Two athlete," adding to Lawrence's take.

"Apart from running the 100m and 200m, she has always been a vital part of our relay set-up, and as you know, we were always there."

He summed up her absence from Champs 2011.

"I understand that in her final year of Class One, there was some misunderstanding between her and the coaching staff-management, hence she was denied the opportunity of competing in her final year."

There have been doubts as to pre-college performance levels surrounding this young lady, just a few days shy of 23 years, who has tongues wagging about her sudden entry into national-team reckoning. It is claimed that prior to the UTech/MVP baptismal, she had not dipped to sub-12.

"Not so," claims Holness, who has had coaching stints in the United Arab Emirates and The Cayman Islands. "In 2010, at Central Champs, she placed fifth in the final with 11.94."

As parishmate Sasha would say, "Look out for Elaine Thompson destined for podium-topping!!!"

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