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Blake: Williams' success fast-tracked hurdles progress

Published:Tuesday | September 22, 2015 | 9:00 AMLeighton Levy
World 100 metres hurdles champion Danielle Williams (second left) at The Queen’s School yesterday. Williams, a past student of the school, was honoured for her exploits at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China.

President of the Jamaica Athletic Administrative Association (JAAA) believes that Danielle Williams' success in Beijing has fast-tracked Jamaica's progress in the women's sprint hurdles and could lead to a more rapid transition from the last era of sprint hurdlers.

In 2009, Brigitte Foster-Hylton won Jamaica's first ever gold medal in the 100-metre hurdles at the IAAF World Athletic Championships in Berlin, Germany, while countrywoman Deloreen Ennis-London was third as Jamaica reaped one of its richest medal hauls ever at a global championships. However, three years later, both athletes had retired, leaving behind an enormous gap to be filled. According to Dr Blake, Williams' success may have just filled that gap.

more medals per capita

"Three years ago when Foster-Hylton retired, we wondered where the next crop of hurdlers were coming from, but a number of camps have been developing hurdlers and we were developing a critical mass of hurdlers so it was going to come, but it came a little quicker than anyone expected," said the JAAA president who spoke with The Gleaner on Monday shortly after The Queen's School honoured Williams for her exploits at the World Championships in Beijing, China.

Williams unexpectedly won gold in a personal best 12.57 seconds to help Jamaica win seven gold medals and finish second overall at the championships behind Kenya. Per capita, Jamaica won more medals than any of the other leading nations, Dr Blake had earlier told the gathering of more than 1,000 students and teachers and dignitaries, including Ministers Lisa Hanna, Natalie Neita-Headley, and chairman of the school board Dr Vin Lawrence.

Blake revealed that while many did not expect Williams to win a medal, he believed she could have.

"I was saying to people that Jamaica stood a good chance of getting a gold medal, and when I said it people looked at me quite strangely as if I was crazy, but I have to believe and have faith in my athletes and her win shows my faith was well placed," he said.

He said Williams' win will be an inspiration for the other female hurdlers currently emerging on to the world stage for Jamaica.

"I think this will give them the boost to work harder, train harder to prepare themselves. A lot of what goes into making a successful hurdler is the preparation that goes in, and seeing that success breeds success and people are going to want to train harder and I think that at the Olympics we could end up getting more than one medal in the event."