Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Jackson keeping a level head

Published:Monday | December 5, 2016 | 12:00 AMHubert Lawrence
Shericka Jackson celebrates her bronze-medal finish in the women's 400 metres inside the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

In 1988, Grace Jackson became the first Jamaican woman to run 400 metres in a time faster than 50 seconds.

These days, some believe that Shericka Jackson, the youngest Jamaican to go sub 50, could be the first from this track-mad nation to break 49 seconds. Despite the speculation and her bronze-medal runs at last year's World Championships in Beijing and this year's Olympic Games, the younger Jackson is keeping a level head.

"Nothing is impossible, but sometimes it takes patience," postulated Jackson, who turned 22 mere weeks before taking third at the Olympics. The University of Technology student was just 21 when she zoomed around the track in 49.99 seconds to secure third place in Beijing. "If I do break 49 seconds, that would be a bonus," she admitted, "but for now, I am just focused on getting things right in training."

In Rio de Janeiro, she bashed a chunk off that 49.99 personal best and took it down to 49.83 in the 400 metres semi-finals. Her third sub-50 came in the final at 49.85.

The former Vere Technical star isn't putting the cart carrying fast time and more medals before the horse.

ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE

"You can't be thinking about it (fast times) when you are not putting in the work," she resolved, "but anything is possible."

Reluctant at Vere to run the one-lap sprint, Jackson is cautiously optimistic about the event these days and joyful about her two bronze medals.

"I think I've kind of grown to love the 400 a bit more," she conceded in a November 30 interview, "and being the youngest from Jamaica to win a medal, it's a great feeling."

Previously, the youngest black-green-and-gold standard bearer to win a global 400 metre medal was Shericka Williams, with her silver at the 2008 Olympics. Williams was 23 and took another silver the following year at the Worlds. Jackson has the same coach Williams did, MVP-UTech supremo Stephen Francis, and she believes in him.

"I am there for the third year now," she related. "He's a patient person and I think he understands his athletes and he helps to develop athletes to perform at their best, especially at championships.

"So his guidance is like 100 per cent good," she professed.

The level-headed St Ann native revealed that she still has a special love for the 200 metres in which once she won a World Youth Championship bronze medal. She also pinpointed World and Olympic champions Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce and Sanya Richards-Ross as athletes she looks up to. She admires Fraser Pryce's 'warrior spirit' and described Richards-Ross as a performer and 'a person who knows how to handle pressure'.