Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Watts expects youngsters to step up

Published:Tuesday | August 2, 2016 | 8:00 AM
First-time Olympic Games qualifier, shot put thrower Danniel Thomas, practises at the Jamaica team's pre-Olympic Games camp at a naval base in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, yesterday.

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil:

Forty-one members of Jamaica's track and field team here in Rio de Janeiro will be competing at their first Olympic Games, with at least 18 of those making their first senior international team.

Despite the youthful nature, manager of the athletics team, Ludlow Watts, is expecting Jamaica's next generation of track and field stars to give a good account of themselves.

"We spoke to them about the expectations and the fact that they will be collecting the baton from our heroes, and they are expected to keep the tradition of success going," said Watts.

"They get the picture, but we have to bear in mind that we have three female discus throwers and it's the first time we are having female discus throwers, at the Olympics, for instance. It is something that we will have to bear with them and remember that they are young and so on, but they will do well."

"It's not that they can't get medals, but it's their first time, and we ought to be patient with them. We will encourage and motivate them and provide the environment for success," Watts added.

Jamaica does boast a number of high-profile first-time Olympians who come into the Games with significant international experience, such as 200m World Championships silver medallist and double sprint contender, Elaine Thompson; world-leading 100m hurdler Omar McLeod; quarter-milers Stephenie-Ann McPherson and Shericka Jackson, as well as top Jamaican 400m hurdler this season, Janieve Russell, and World Championships shot put bronze medal winner, O'Dayne Richards.

There are, however, others such as sprint hurdlers Deuce Carter and Megan Simmonds, and sprinters Jevaughn Minzie and Sashalee Forbes, who are at their first senior international championships.

"There are some new athletes, but some of them, especially those in the 100m to 400m and 400m hurdles - they are accustomed to competing in high-quality competition in Jamaica and strong internal competition is manifested in international level - like Japan, because of their strong auto industry, they turn out quality on the international market. It's the same thing with Jamaica's track and field," Watts reasoned.

- A.L.