Sun | Dec 16, 2018

Jamaica could surpass 2016 medal at World U20s

Published:Tuesday | July 10, 2018 | 12:00 AMRaymond Graham/ Gleaner Writer
Christopher Taylor
Briana Williams

FOR the next six days starting today, some of the country's top junior athletes will showcase their talents internationally as the IAAF World Under-20 Championships will be held in Tampere, Finland. Over 2,000 athletes and officials from more than 180 countries will be in attendance at this year staging which is the 16th.

Two years ago, it was eight medals for Jamaica, led by two gold from female quarter-miler, Tiffany James and male intermediate hurdler, Jaheel Hyde, who was making it back-to-back wins in the event following success two years earlier in Eugene, Oregon.

After some spectacular performances at the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Athletics Championships (Champs) in March, expectations were very high, as with that momentum, chances were that Jamaica could have its best ever medal haul at these Championships.

This momentum continued at the Carifta Games and the Penn Relays, but after that, things slowed down a bit and it was evident at the JAAA National Senior and Junior Athletics Championships in June, where several of the top athletes were absent, while several turned up out of shape. Two sure medal prospects in Edwin Allen High, Kevona Davis and Rhodes Hall High, Rovane Williams, are not in Finland, while several others, including Petersfield High's Antonio Watson and Hydel High's Cherokee Young are also out.

However, despite the absence of some of the nation's top athletes, chances are that the country is expected to do very well once again, and come July 15, if all goes well, Team Jamaica could leave Finland with a maximum nine medals. What is good this time around is that the team arrived in Finland several days before the competition, which would have given them enough time to overcome jet lag problems.

Most of the country's medals should come from the male team, led by captain Christopher Taylor. Taylor should easily make up for his disappointment of two years ago when injury derailed him and he failed to make it from the semi-final of the one-lap event. He has been in sparkling form this season, breaking records upon records, and with a career best of 44.88 seconds, he looks a cinch for gold in the 400m, which has been dominated this season by Jamaicans.




Kingston College's Dashawn Morris, at two with 45.09 seconds, with overseas-based Chantz Sawyers 45.40 and Anthony Carpenter, 45.47, are among the top eight. If Morris can come close to his Champs form, Jamaica could walk away with two medals. Nigeria's Emmanuel Bamidele, with a best of 45.28 seconds, looks the only threat here outside of the Jamaicans for a medal.

Young Briana Williams will be the country's best hope of an individual medal among the females, as she will be competing in the 100 and 200m sprints. With a personal and season best of 11.13 seconds, she will be hoping to give the country its first gold medal here since Veronica Campbell-Brown did so in 2000. Her clash with the United States' Twanisha Terry will be one of the highlights of the Championships, as Terry, with a personal best of 10.99 seconds, will start favourite, but her very busy scheduled at the recent NCAA Champion-ship could have taken its toll on her, and this could be a great opportunity for Williams to upstage her.

With a personal best of 23.11 seconds, Williams is the fifth ranked athlete in the 200m, and despite the quality of the field, where four athletes are under 23 seconds, her performance in the 100m could ignite her and see her finish among the medals.