Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Hubert Lawrence | The best is yet to come

Published:Thursday | February 23, 2017 | 2:56 AM
Thompson

In some ways, the best part of the local track-and-field season is finished.
For those who like to leave the Corporate Area, there has been nothing better than meets in Mandeville and Williamsfield, Santa Cruz, Halse Hall, and Montego Bay for two weekends straight.

Those in Kingston have had a fair bit of fun, too, with double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson and Fedrick Dacres the main players.

Thompson confirmed her fine showing at the Queens/Grace Jackson Invitational when she joined Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce as the second-fastest Jamaican women of all time at 60 metres with her run of 6.98 seconds in Birmingham, England. The national record isn’t far away at 6.96 seconds by legendary Merlene Ottey.

RECORDS RESET

In two trips to Excelsior High School, Dacres has set and reset the national discus record. His last blast, at the King of the Ring throws-only meet, measured 68.88 metres. The signs suggest that Thompson and Dacres are on the way to great seasons.

The same goes for Olympic champion Omar McLeod, who has run fine times of 7.46 seconds and 20.48 seconds for the 60-metre hurdles and the 200 metres, respectively.

The cautionary note is that the indoor 60 metres isn’t contested outdoors and that discus throwing is easier on open fields like the Excelsior campus than inside the nearly enclosed stadiums, which host meets like the Olympics and the World Championships. The shortest outdoor sprint is the 100 metres, and on open fields, air currents can help the discus stay aloft. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that if Thompson is faster indoors, that should translate into faster times outdoors at 100 metres and possibly 200 metres. Equally, Dacres is stronger than ever and seems capable of mastering 65 metres in championship conditions. If things work out, this pair is on its way to big things in London at the World Championships in August.

For reference, the last time the world’s best athletes gathered in London for a global championships ­ the 2012 Olympic Games ­ the women’s 100 metres went to Fraser-Pryce in 10.75 seconds and the men’s discus travelled 68.27 metres from the hand of German giant Robert Harting.

In that competition, Harting, Iranian Elshan Hadadi, and 2008 Olympic champion Gerd Kanter of Estonia all threw over 68 metres.

Great days lie ahead. The 41st Gibson-McCook Relays are set for this Saturday, and if the weather is better than in 2016, it should be a great meet. The high school race of the meet might be a run against the clock in the Class Three girls 4x100 metres. Salecia Myles, 100 metres and 200 metres 2016 gold-medal winner Kevona Davis, Lisandra Brown, and Shanique Rowe have been reorganising the record books since their Class Four days.

GIBSON-MCCOOK RECORD

The Gibson-McCook record is 45.77 seconds, and the Michael Dyke-coached Edwin Allen quartet has 2017 times of 45.99 at the Central Hurdles and Relays and 45.84 seconds at the Western Relays.

Thompson delighted fans at the Western Relays with an appearance on anchor for the MVP Track Club in the 4x100 metres. In similar fashion, Yohan Blake will lead a strong Racers Track Club men’s 4x100 metres team on Saturday at the Gibson-McCook Relays. Sadly, the incomparable Usain Bolt won’t be on track, but the record the tall man anchored in 2010 ­ 38.08 seconds ­ might be under threat.

Whatever happens, the Gibson-McCook Relays, the Carifta Trials, and Boys and Girls’ Championships combine to make the next few weeks on the local athletics circuit well worth watching. When the dust settles in September, it’s a far bet that Dacres and Dodd won’t be the only ones with new national records. Thompson and McLeod could both turn the trick, and, along with Dacres, cover themselves in glory in London.

- Hubert Lawrence has made notes at tracksince 1980.