Hubert Lawrence | Champs 2017 - hurdles haven
Britany Anderson started a fire when she casually snipped 0.01 seconds off the Class Two 100 metres hurdles record in the heats at the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Championships last week.
The Raymond Graham-coached Vere Technical High School starlet ignited a blaze that burnt the sprint hurdles section of the Champs record books almost completely to ashes. When Anderson and company were finished, that section had a new look.
Before the ink could dry on Anderson's time, Shanette Allison of Holmwood Technical High School excised 0.07 from it and upgraded the record to 13.30. The Vere girl ended the tug of war with a mind-boggling run of 13.04 seconds in the semis and a solid win in the final.
Anderson and Allison weren't the only ones to light up the sprint hurdles. Gabrielle McDonald, De'Jour Russell, Danae Nembhard, and Jahvel Granville did their part in the greatest mass demonstration of sprint hurdling Champs has ever seen. McDonald and Russell earned pride of place. McDonald held off Janeek Brown of Wolmer's Girls to give Edwin Allen High the Class One 100 metres hurdles gold in 13.12 seconds, while Russell of Calabar took Olympic 110 hurdles champion Omar McLeod off the books with a smooth and powerful clocking of 13.21 seconds in Class One.
In 2014, Yohan Blake lost his pair of Champs 100 metre records to Raheem Chambers in Class Two and Zharnel Hughes in Class One. This time, Peta-Gay Williams got that harsh treatment in the hurdles. Not only did Anderson and Allison erase her Class Two record of 13.38 seconds, but she also lost her Class One record of 13.56 seconds. Williams might rue the heavy headwind of three metres per second that she faced when she set the Class One standard, but that's history now.
In the hurdles, Jamaica's future glitters. Not only does the nation have McLeod, 2015 World Championship runner-up Hansle Parchment, and 2014 Commonwealth champion Andrew Riley on the men's side now, but it appears that Russell could eventually join them on the world stage.
RUNNING FOR JAMAICA
Currently, our women are led by World Champion Danielle Williams, World Under-20 runner-up Rushelle Burton, and Olympic semi-finalist Megan Simmonds. While the future holds no guarantees, it surely won't be long before Anderson, Allison, McDonald, and Brown entertain hopes of running for Jamaica at the highest level.
St Elizabeth Technical High coach Reynaldo Walcott pinpointed sprint speed as the attribute shared by Russell, Anderson, and the other Champs record breakers.
"Long and short, what you find is a lot of the fastest people are doing hurdles," he observed in praise of the coaches who authored the slick hurdles performances at Champs, "and when you have that, a lot of speed just pushes them to go faster."
He might just be on to something.
- Hubert Lawrence has made notes at track side since 1980.