McLaughlin-Whilby beaming after Western Relays
Anneisha McLaughlin-Whilby is always smiling, but her countenance was brighter than usual at the Western Relays in Montego Bay last Saturday. The glow came from a fine performance there and the good training she has had so far for the 2017 season. McLaughlin-Whilby, a 2016 Olympic relay silver medal winner, contributed fast legs to Sprintec teams in the 4x100 metres and 4x400 metres relays on a cool evening at the Montego Bay Sports Complex.
Her team finished second in both events to strong teams from the MVP Track Club, but McLaughlin-Whilby sparkled. In an unaccustomed role of lead-off running in the sprint relay, she jetted from the blocks and gave Sprintec a good start. Her effort showed the speed that won her gold medals in the 100 metres at the 2002 Carifta Games in the under-17 age category and at Boys and Girls' Championships in 2005. "This was my first race for the season, and I was excited because we have a little makeshift 4x100 team", she said, "and I hadn't run a start leg in, like, probably 17 years."
With double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson on the anchor leg, the MVP team won in 43.61 seconds.
Missing from the Sprintec line-up was Gayon Evans, who is racing on the European indoor circuit.
McLaughlin, now 31, helped the Maurice Wilson-coached Sprintec Club to challenge MVP in the 4x400 with a 51.3 seconds run on the third leg. Shericka Jackson, the Olympic 400 metres bronze medallist, sealed the win - 3 minutes 32.67 seconds for MVP. Sprintec clocked 3 minutes 33.16 seconds.
In between those efforts, McLaughlin-Whilby explained that so far, her training for the 2017 season has been going well. "Well, training is going great. I can't complain, just taking it one day at a time," was her analysis of her preparations so far.
Despite a fifth -place finish in the 200 metres in the World Championships as far back as in 2009, the former Holmwood Technical and University of Technology athlete had worked past injuries to reach the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro last year. Her fast contribution to the women's 4x400 relay helped Jamaica to the silver medals. That experience has made her optimistic about this season. "Yes," she agreed, "and the good synergy that me and Mr Wilson had from high school, that contributed to everything that I achieved last year, and I'm looking forward to great things this season."
Asked if her targets included lowering her 400 metres personal best from 51.03 to something below 50 seconds, she smiled and said, "That's the plan most naturally."