Mon | Feb 24, 2020

Smith hails coach after CAC success

Published:Wednesday | August 1, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Jamaica’s Jonielle Smith (centre) wins her 100m heat in 11.19 seconds ahead of the British Virgin Islands’ Tahesia Harrigan (left) and Panama’s Yasmin Woodruff at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Barranquilla, Colombia. Smith went on to win the final in 11.04 seconds (+2.3 m/s).

Jonielle Smith is the first Jamaican since Hyacinth Walters to win the women's 100m at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games, matching her predecessor's 12.3-second feat done in 1950 with an 11.04-second (+2.3m/s) gold-medal run two nights ago.

Smith, who recently graduated from Auburn University with a degree in accounting, attributes her significant improvement in the execution of the seven phases of the 100m race to her coach, Henry Rolle.

"It's been four long years that I have been with him and he is a very impatient man, but he has been patient with me," Smith told The Gleaner after she was garlanded with her gold medal yesterday.

"When I left high school, he knew that I didn't have the best start and he worked on it, and I have improved significantly with my start and my drive phase."

Coming out of high school, Smith had a personal best of 11.32 seconds and came down to 11.13 by her junior (third) year in college. But this season has been her best, as she has run consistently in the 11.1-second bracket.

"I believe he is really capable of taking me to the number one spot in the world in female sprinting," the former Wolmer's Girls' School standout said.

The 22-year-old told the world that she will soon be a force to be reckoned with when she finished third in her first Diamond League outing two weeks ago in London behind two-time Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Dezerea Bryant of the USA.

She registered a personal best of 11.07 seconds in a race that was under the spotlight because Fraser-Pryce was making her return to the Diamond League circuit after taking a year off to give birth to her first child.

Smith and Rolle, who is from The Bahamas, will leave Auburn for the Sunshine State of Florida when training for the 2019 track and field season resumes in the autumn at their new track club MVP International.

MVP International will be an extension of the local MVP Track and Field Club, which is based at the University of Technology, Jamaica.

Cynthia Thompson, who also finished second to Walters in 1950, is the only other Jamaican woman to win the CAC Games gold in the 100m after her 12.1-second triumph in 1946.