Top Ja stars set for Diamond League finals
AFTER the completion of 11 of 12 Diamond League meets, several of Jamaica's top athletes have booked their spots in the finals slated for Zurich and Brussels on August 30 and 31.
The last meet in the preliminary stage, the Birmingham Diamond League, will be held tomorrow, and athletes will be seeking to clinch berths in the grand finals, where the winners of each discipline will walk away with US$50,000.
Five Jamaican men have already booked their tickets for the finals, with one likely to do so in Birmingham. Discus thrower Fedrick Dacres, with 25 points, is the leader in his event ahead of Lithuania's Andrius Gudzius on 22 points.
Jamaica has three finalists in the men's 110m hurdles. They are led by Olympic and World champion Omar McLeod, who is in fourth place with 20 points. Commonwealth Games champion Ronald Levy, who is down to compete tomorrow, is on 17, and Commonwealth Games silver medallist, Hansle Parchment on 16 are fifth and sixth, respectively.
Yohan Blake looks on course to book a place in the 100m final. Blake, who returned to some form at the London Diamond League after finishing fourth in a season's best 9.95 seconds, currently is presently occupying the eighth and final spot on nine points, one ahead of Britain's Chijindu Ujah on eight and two ahead of another Briton, Zharnel Hughes. Blake will advance if he finishes ahead of Ujah while Hughes will have to finish two places ahead, of the Jamaican to advance to the finals.
Long jumper Tajay Gayle is lying in eighth position, along with two other athletes in the long jump. They are all on four points. Twelve athletes will advance to the finals.
MVP Track Club teammates Janieve Russell and Shericka Jackson, along with triple jumper Kimberly Williams, are women who have booked places in the finals.
Russell is on 29 points in the women's 400m hurdles, behind leader Dalilah Muhammad of the United States, who is on 34 points. Meanwhile, Shamier Little of the United States, who has beaten the Jamaican in her last three appearances, including the NACAC Championships, is just behind in third on 27.
Jackson, who has been having a great season in the 200m, has secured 23 points and is one point behind leader Janna Prandini of the United States. Prandini has 24 points.
Williams is on 26 points and is in second spot in her pet event, the triple jump. She will be joined in the finals by teammate Shanieka Ricketts, who is in fifth place with 16 points .
Sprint hurdler Danielle Williams is in third place in the women's 100m hurdles on 23 points, while Natoya Goule (17 points) is fifth in the women's 800m. Danniel Thomas-Dodd, also in fifth spot in the shot put on nine points, and Aisha Praught on six points in ninth position in the women's 3000m steeplechase have all booked their tickets to the finals.
National 400m champion Stephenie Ann McPherson must wait until tomorrow to cement a final spot. With only seven athletes to move into the finals, McPherson is in joint seventh spot with American Courtney Okolo in the 400m. McPherson has the psychological advantage here after beating the American easily a week ago at the NACAC Championships, where she won the gold medal.
Olympic sprint champion Elaine Thompson had also booked a final spot in the women's 100 metres, where she was third on 25 points, but will not contest the finals after calling a halt to her season recently.