Sat | Aug 18, 2018

Big four threatened?

Published:Wednesday | June 24, 2015 | 12:00 AMHubert Lawrence
Kerron Stewart

Veronica Campbell-Brown, Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, Sherone Simpson and Kerron Stewart have dominated Jamaica's female sprinting for over a decade. Between them, they have won every national 100-metre title on offer from 2004 onward. This big four will find their dominance under threat at this week's National Championships by a group of young speedsters led by Fraser-Pryce's training partner, Elaine Thompson.

Thompson has only lost once in a season that has produced times of 11.10 seconds to win the Intercollegiate title, 10.92 at the UTech Classic, 10.97 at the Jamaica Invitational and 10.84 at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon. There, she lost narrowly to 2013 World Championship finalist English Gardner of the USA. Only Fraser-Pryce and Muriel Ahoure of the Cote d'Ivoire have been quicker this year with their close run of 10.81 seconds in a different 100-metre race at Prefontaine.

On this year's form, the only member of the big four who can stop Thompson is Fraser-Pryce. She is apparently recovered from the injury worry that forced her out of the 200m at the Rome Diamond League meet. Campbell-Brown, Stewart and Simpson have not broken the 11-second threshold yet, and Simpson, the national champion in 2006 and 2010, may focus on the 200m anyway.

Five-time winner Campbell-Brown has efforts of 11.04 and 11.08, with two-time champion Stewart down the clock at 11.24. In between them are five women. They are Samantha Henry-Robinson, 11.08, Christania Williams, 11.11, Natasha Morrison 11.13, Simone Facey,11.15, and Schillonie Calvert, 11.23.

Williams, last year's 100m winner at Boys and Girls' Championships for Edwin Allen High School, and her former UTech teammate, Natasha Morrison, are exciting prospects. Like Fraser-Pryce and Thompson, they are coached by Stephen Francis.

The young ones need to be at their best. That's because the veterans always seem to perform well at the Nationals. Simpson, Stewart and Fraser-Pryce have all won the 100m with personal best times in the past, with Fraser-Pryce setting a Jamaican record of 10.70 seconds in 2012.

Last year's 200 metres National Champion Anniesha McLaughlin-Whitby is not competing this year. Before that, the big four had sped away with every crown from 2004 onward. As befits a repeat Olympic champion, Campbell-Brown has won the National 200 metre title six times, with Fraser-Pryce winning a trio.

Fraser-Pryce, the reigning 100 and 200 metre World champion, and Thompson are the joint fastest Jamaicans at the 200m this year with times of 22.37 seconds.