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Hubert Lawrence: Parchment is number one

Published:Thursday | December 17, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Parchment

Overtaking giants like Keith Gardner and Maurice Wignall wasn't easy, but now Hansle Parchment is the best Jamaican 110-metre hurdler of all time.

Gardner and Wignall were so accomplished that Parchment had to be especially good to get past them, but his recent World Championships silver medal has completed his ascent to the top. It is a fine achievement.

Coached by Fitz Coleman, Parchment has done what those notables were unable to do by winning medals at the highest level. His 2011 World University Games gold medal probably matches the Commonwealth gold medals won by Gardner, Wignall and Andrew Riley; and the Pan-American Games by Andrew Parker in 1987.

He became the first Jamaican to win an Olympic medal in the 110-metre hurdles in 2012 when he surged to third.

Gardner set high standards by winning at the 1958 Commonwealth Games and with a fifth place finish at the 1960 Olympics.

Wignall connected the dots from Gardner to the 21st century by reaching the Olympic final in 2004, placing a close fourth. Now retired, Wignall won a World Indoor bronze in 2004 and time-warped the national record to 13.17 seconds. Wonderfully consistent, he matched Gardner's Commonwealth win in 2006 and returned to the Olympic final in 2008 and was a three-time finalist at the World Championships.

In addition, he took Richard Phillips with him to the 2008 Olympic final. Dwight 'Bigga' Thomas, who would lower the national record to 13.15, joined Wignall in the 2009 World Championships final.

That record is now 12.94 seconds. Parchment set that mark last year to be the first Jamaican to break the magical 13-second barrier.

He doesn't yet have the repeat World Championships appearances that Wignall has. Sadly, a freak accident in the prematurely dark confines of the National Stadium East field left him injured in 2013. That caught up to him in the World Championships semi-final.

That's behind him now. A fine run earned him a silver in Beijing in this summer's World Championships behind slick Russian Sergey Shubenkov.

His national record may not last long. Twenty-one-year-old Omar McLeod beat him this year at the Jamaican National Championships with a pluperfect run of 12.97 seconds. Astute observers believe the younger man can tackle the world record of 12.80 seconds held by reigning Olympic champion Aries Merritt of the United States.

Parchment may move the Jamaica record himself because he has a knack of running his best when it counts the most. The records show he set a personal best - 13.24 seconds - to win his World University Games gold; a Jamaican all-time best of 13.12 for his Olympic bronze; and a seasonal best of 13.03, the third-fastest time by a Jamaican, to take second at the recent 2015 World Championships.

That's an indicator for the future. For now, Parchment's medals make all the difference. Simply put, the tall man from Port Morant is the best 110 hurdler Jamaica has ever produced.

- HUBERT LAWRENCE has made notes at track side since 1980.