Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Athletes thrilled by fan support

Published:Monday | June 13, 2016 | 6:00 AMRaymond Graham
A section of the crowd at the Racers JN Grand Prix on Saturday at the National Stadium.

Top athletes showed their appreciation for the support from the near-capacity crowd at Saturday's Racers JN Grand Prix at the National Stadium.

Both the bleachers and grandstand were full, reminiscent of the crowd at Boys and Girls' Championships, and the athletes said they provided some amount of inspiration.

It was, for most parts, a carnival affair as fans revelled in the performances, given that it was a rare opportunity to see the foreign athletes competing right before their eyes.

"I love the Jamaica crowd as it reminds me of that in Brazil, with its music and great cheering throughout the competition," said Chauntae Lowe, the United States' high jump champion with a best clearance of 1.94m. "It helped to propel me, and I love how my season has been going so far."

Shaunae Miller, who won the women's 200m at the Jamaica International Invitational this and last year, completed here, third straight win on Saturday night with a personal best 22.05 seconds in the half-lap.

"Jamaica is great, and I love to compete here," she noted.

"In my event when Prandini was close to me, I could hear the cheering and I knew they were supporting me and it gave me great motivation," said Miller, who blew past the United States' Jenna Prandini, who finished second in 22.38.

Her countryman, David Oliver, who was competing in Kingston for the first time, was equally impressed after posting a season best 13.09-second win in the men's high hurdles.

"I have always heard about the supportive crowd in Jamaica for the athletes, and competing here in Jamaica for the first time, it was great," Oliver observed. "It does not matter where you're from, the crowd was just great, and I just love the atmosphere."

Hometown favourites Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce reached out to their fans after claiming wins in the blue riband event, the 100 metres.

"The crowd was great tonight, and I would like to thank the people for coming out and giving me support as it was really great to hear the applause at the start and at the end of my race," said Fraser-Pryce," the World and Olympic champion who clocked 11.09. "It really helped me to give of my best."

Bolt, also the holder of the World and Olympic crowns over both 100 and 200m, also paid tribute to the fans.

He got up behind the field but surged quickly with a strong mid-race and won easily in 9.88 seconds.

"As usual, the crowd has been great to me, and tonight, I wanted to give of my best as it felt good competing at home before the people who really have shown love for me," said Bolt. "It has been a long while and it was indeed great."