Foster's Fairplay: A spine-tingling gold medal win
The undiluted brilliance coming from the Beijing World Championships has put Foster's Fairplay in a tailspin. Does the column give a ranking as to who were the top performers on a 1-2-3 basis? Absolutely not; so many others have taken on that mundane task. The controversy is stimulating and healthy.
However, it basically informs on what is already accepted, give or take some minor adjustments. Try not to blame this column as a different analytical passage is taken. It has been standard practice to highlight excellence against odds, so the way forward is already set in concrete.
At the Beijing showcase of the world's best, 100-metre hurdles World champion - baby sister Jamaica's Danielle Williams comes out of The Queen's School in her home country and subsequently, the Johnson C. Smith University, located in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. Interestingly, her elder sibling, Shermaine Williams, was also in the final.
Compared with the competition that encircled, the 22-year-old Danielle's worksheet was modest - a 12.69 personal record and a 2015 best of 12.71, taking into account the plethora of global champion credentials, world leads, lifetime and season bests posted by some awesomely talented USA sprint hurdlers.
There were four of them and a British lady, herself a former US athlete - all waiting and, from their status, ready to gobble up our pint-sized Danielle. Her only world-standard outing resulted in an agonising fourth place at the 2010 World Juniors in Moncton. However, as my colleague and friend Hubert Lawrence says, "That's why they run the races".
What was in her credit column, as she sought to do the unthinkable?
Her high-school coach, Lloyd Clarke, and Lennox Graham, who leads her programme at college, were marked present, observing. Clarke was part of the staff of the elite Stephen Francis-guided MVP Track Club, while Graham was thrust into a national spot with overall responsibility for all Jamaica's hurdlers at the big show.
With 12.77 seconds to win her opening round, a lifetime record of 12.58 to repeat the feat in the semi-finals and later in the same day (the men were not subjected to this) another PB, 12.57, was all it took to mine a spine-tingling gold medal, surprising to all willing to tell the truth.
Foster's Fairplay engaged the new World champion a week after as to her sentiments, having been afforded time to reflect. She had made the trek from Kings Gate Prep to Beijing in fine style.
"It is surreal. I was never a standout in this sport when I began, so I am still in disbelief that I was able to beat the best in the world for the gold medal and title," said Danielle.
What were the seeds sown back then that still continue to blossom and produce fruit?
She continued: "If any seeds were sown, it was that hard work pays off and it's not necessarily who's the most favoured who comes out on top; it's who's the best on the day."
Big sister by a mere two-plus years, Shermaine, is highly lettered at the elite level for teenaged athletes. She boasts (just this columnist's writing style as she is as humble as can be imagined) silver medals at both World Youths (2007) and World Juniors (2008), and was also a finalist at the 2005 version of the former event.
How much did that influence count?
"We have been competing all season long, so we have been able to push each other significantly," explained Danielle. "We have made each other better by constantly forcing the other to always be on top of our game, as neither of us wants to lose to the other.
"By competing with her at such high intensity, I feel that I was better able to handle the competition against the rest of the world. I train with one of the best hurdlers in the world. It can't get any better than that."
She looked at Rio 2016.
"I strive to make my first Olympic team, represent Jamaica to the best of my ability, and achieve whatever goals I will set for myself."
As Danielle readies herself for further glory, Foster's Fairplay's wishes are in keeping with her high school's motto: Virtute et Sapientia Floreat (May she flourish in virtue and wisdom).
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