Francis expects Thompson, Spencer to go faster
MVP Track Club head coach Stephen Francis is expecting ever-improving 200 metres sprinter Elaine Thompson to go much faster before the end of the season, after the 23-year-old's impressive 22.10 (-0.3) personal-best and win at the Sainsbury's Anniversary Games inside the London Olympic Stadium on Saturday.
Francis also provided an update on 400m hurdling medal hope Kaliese Spencer, who has missed the last month or so of competition with a foot injury.
Thompson, who had previously ran 22.37 at a Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association All Comers Meet in May, is seen as a strong contender for a podium spot at next month's World Championships in Beijing, China, and looked like she belonged, out-powering established American sprinter Torie Bowie, 22.32, and Candyce McGrone, 22.70, to the line, in what was her first appearance in the 200m internationally this year, and only the second in her career.
The timing of the sprinter's personal best came as a slight surprise to Francis, who shared that she has been under a heavy training load in the past month at their training base in Italy.
"We have been practising her technical running of the 200m a lot since the trials and, on one hand, it's a little bit surprising that she ran that quickly because she has been having a very heavy training load since the trials ended," Francis told The Gleaner. "We have had four really hard weeks and this is the time when it was least expected that she will run this fast, but on the other hand, it probably means that she will run a lot faster in four week's time (at the World Championships), so we will see."
Thompson's time makes her the fourth-fastest woman in the event this year and the eighth-fastest Jamaican in history behind Merlene Ottey (21.64), Grace Jackson (21.72), Veronica Campbell-Brown (21.74), Juliet Cuthbert (21.75), Kerron Stewart (21.99), Sherone Simpson (22.00), and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (22.09). Ottey would, of course, later change her nationality to Slovenian.
Francis also pointed out the athlete's ability to apply her training in competitive situations.
"She ran as how she has been practising, and that's a good sign," Francis said. "Athletes who run as precisely as how they interpret what they are supposed to do will always do well, and I think she has got the message that all she needs to do, is do what she does in practice and allow everything else to take care of itself."
Meanwhile, Spencer was listed to compete in London over the weekend as well, but her name was removed from the 400m hurdles start list a couple days before the meet. She was also expected to run at another meet a few days ago, causing concern about her fitness going into the World Championships.
Spencer won all three of the Diamond League meets she has competed in, but has not featured since June 11, but Francis assured that the Commonwealth champion will be ready for Beijing, where he expects her to do well.
"She (Spencer) missed a couple weeks' training; she had some issues with her foot, but she has started back, and because of that, you probably won't see her run until the World Championships. Being as experienced as she is, I think it might be good for her.
She will go into the World Championships a lot more focused, she will be in shape, she looks quite good so far, and I think she is going to run very well," said Francis. "Nobody knows how everyone else will run, but I'm pretty sure Kaliese will run the fastest she has ever ran at a championships."