Laurie Foster | The 2019 track season and two exciting sprint stars
As the month of December continues to move forward, the prospect of a new track and field season comes sharply into focus. Traditionally, it will kick off with the Pure Water/Jamaica College Invitational event scheduled for the school's brand- new state-of-the-art track, once the weather permits its completion. The curtain will be drawn with the XVI IAAF World Championships in Athletics in the oven hot city of Doha, come September and going into October.
Jamaica and the world of track and field should by now have heard all about the young and sensational Briana Williams, and her prowess at the tender age of 16, as was on show at the recent World Under-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland. Her band of supporters should have been satisfied if her plans for the future were centred only around a repetition of her double sprint gold at the next edition of the event in 2020 and for which she will still be eligible.
If a look is taken at words coming from the camp of the USA-born Williams, an exciting story is in the offing. It speaks of her wishing to qualify at the 2019 trials to run the 100m in Doha and to make the final there. This, in the opinion of Foster's Fairplay, will take a lot of running. It must be borne in mind that the likely contenders will not be only the two Jamaicans who have been gold medallists at the senior level in Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson, but the USA's Tori Bowie, plus a trio of African girls and Dafne Schippers. All these have had sprint medals before and thus should be serious threats to any ambitious thoughts of the young sprinter.
While all those parameters are under debate, one has to consider times in the past where the so-called 'inexperienced' and 'not ready yet' athletes confounded the critics and caused them to think again. It is not necessary to look further than the rise to world attention of Fraser-Pryce. She qualified from the 2008 Trials to run the 100m at the Olympics that year. There was opposition to her taking up that mantle, but good sense prevailed , and she was the champion a few weeks later.
Feeling of discomfort
That said, there is a lingering feeling of discomfort in the mind of Foster's Fairplay. There is another 16-year-old athlete out of the Michael Dyke-coached programme at the Edwin Allen High School. Her name is Kevona Davis, and she has excelled in the two sprints at the world-renowned Boys and Girls' Championships for the last two years. She has set marks of 11.15 and 22.72 over the 100m and 200m, respectively.
The country was bracing itself for a face-off between Kevona and Briana, as they prepared to contest the events at the World Under-20 Championships. It did not happen, as Kevona was injured in the weeks leading up and was unable to participate.
Foster's Fairplay takes its deep concern from the fact that this is the second year on the trot that Kevona has suffered an injury at that time of the season. It first happened at the World Under-18 event in Kenya last year. This is worrisome, and here is where the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) should step in. Kevona has shown that the accomplishments of the much- heralded Briana are not beyond her. The nation cannot afford to allow her to feel that she is of less importance to the track and field structure than the high-riding Briana is threatening to be.
One never knows the moves by the JAAA to give assistance to athletes to get them through these challenges, and maybe it is right that these things are kept close to the chest of the governing body. It is therefore just a nudge to the JAAA to reach out to the Edwin Allen High community to ensure that Kevona is receiving the support required to keep her afloat. The technical director of the JAAA, coach Maurice Wilson, exclaimed in radio commentary, while she was in action at the 2018 Champs, "This girl is a gem; she must be protected."
Let the JAAA bear that in mind and do whatever is in its power to keep her motivated and in condition to allow her talents to take her to the next level.
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