Good year for Jamaica's juniors
It was another good year for the country's junior athletes, who once again made their marks on the international scene.
The IAAF World Under-20 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland provided the stage for the country's juniors, who picked up eight medals - two gold, three silver and three bronze; to finish fifth overall. It was also fifth for them on the placing table with 71 points.
Tiffany James and Jaheel Hyde, who both captured gold medals in their respective events, were the island's standout performers of the championships.
James, who now attends The Mico University College, showed tremendous improvement over the past year to create history by becoming the first Jamaican female to capture a global gold medal in the one-lap event. This is a great achievement for her, considering the quality quarter-milers that Jamaica has produced over the years.
After winning the bronze medal at the Carifta Games in Grenada in 52.70 seconds a few months earlier, James continued her improvement and surprised Junelle Bromfield at the National Junior Championships, to win the event in a then personal best of 52.06 seconds.
In Poland, she was on fire as she made her intentions clear from the first time she graced the track, winning her heat in 52.98 seconds to be the fastest qualifier. In the semi-finals, she remained unbeaten after winning in a new personal best of 51.77 seconds, before improving with a lifetime best of 51.32 seconds in the final. She did this with a gritty performance to hold off the United States' Lynna Irby, who also went sub-52 seconds, finishing second, also in a personal best 51.39 seconds.
Hyde was a cut above his peers and after his success two years ago in the 400 metres hurdles at the World Juniors in Eugene, Oregon, he had little difficulty in creating history by becoming the first male athlete to win back-to-back titles, when he easily won the event in Poland in 49.03 seconds.
Now in his second year at the University of the West Indies, Hyde is not new to success on the international stage. In 2013 in Donetsk, Ukraine, he won the World Youth 110 metres hurdles title and also won the event at the World Summer Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China the following year.
When he won in Poland, it was no surprise, as for the past two years, he has been unbeaten among his peers in the event. The outstanding Hyde, who
finished second at the National Senior Championships, added more glory as he went on to represent the country at the Olympic Games, where he advanced to the second round of the event.
While James and Hyde were head and shoulders above their peers, there were several others who made their marks - especially in Poland. This includes Shannon Kalawan, Rushelle Burton and Junelle Bromfield, among the females, and Nigel Ellis among the males.
Burton and Kalawan won silver in the 100 and 400 metres hurdles, while Bromfield won bronze in the 400 metres with Ellis taking the bronze in the 200 metres.