Hubert Lawrence | In case you missed it!
With the NBA Play-offs coming to a head, the conclusion of the French Open, and start of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, you may have missed a glimpse into the future of Jamaica’s track and field. Running for the University of Arkansas at the NCAA Championships in Austin, Texas, Janeek Brown produced a world-leading time of 12.40 seconds to win the 100m hurdles. The performance puts Brown, a second-year student at Arkansas, in the spotlight.
The time is one thing. It vaults her past Brigitte Foster-Hylton’s 16-year-old national record of 12.45 seconds and is just 0.01 shy of the US collegiate record set by Brianna Rollins-McNeal, who is the reigning Olympic champion. In addition, it places her alongside 2015 World Champion Danielle Williams at the front of Jamaica’s quest to assert itself in the hurdles.
Austin saw many fast times last week. Sha’Carri Richardson raised her hands before the finish of a world junior record 10.75 seconds in the 100m. Grant Holloway broke the 40-year-old NCAA 110m hurdles record set by legendary Renaldo ‘Skeets’ Nehemiah, with a superb run of 12.98 seconds. Before the hurdles, Holloway ran the third leg for the University of Florida 4x100m team that clocked 37.98 seconds – the first-ever sub 38 time by a college team.
Times like those make the sceptics worry that Brown may not be able to match the 12.40 seconds, but the Wolmerian has also run 12.53, 12.55 and 12.57 this season. The ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships Class Two and Three sprint hurdles winner is for real.
She has much in common with Omar McLeod, who also went to the University of Arkansas after concluding his high-school career. He blossomed in Fayetteville, with NCAA titles indoors and outdoors and in 2016, the Olympic gold medal.
With her star on the rise from a 2018 best of 12.80 seconds, she may soon have more in common with McLeod, who gave up the last two years of his NCAA eligibility for a professional contract. When you’re hot, you’re hot.
Might go faster
She might even go faster in a meet when she can focus on the 100m hurdles. In Austin, she ran the 4x100m and after her pet event was over, she fell just short of a medal in the 200m despite a personal-best time of 22.40 seconds.
Her NCAA performance has turned the 100m hurdles at next week’s National Senior Championships into a prime-time event. Williams ran 12.48 seconds and 12.49 last season and started her IAAF Diamond League campaign with a comprehensive win in Doha.
Steady progress for Olympic semi-finalist Megan Tapper and Yanique Thompson, the Commonwealth Games bronze medal winner, just behind Williams, prompts hopes for a high-quality final and a return to the days of Michelle Freeman, Dionne Rose-Henley, Gillian Russell-Love, Vonette Dixon, Lacena Golding-Clarke, Delloreen Ennis-London and Foster-Hylton.
The 21-year-old is now the joint 15th fastest hurdler of all time. With nine of those ahead of her retired, Brown has arrived on the doorstep of the world’s best. It’s no wonder she has expressed an interest in racing them at the IAAF World Championships.
The first step will come next week at the JAAA National Championships. The French Open is finished and the NBA Play-offs should be done by then. The future of Jamaica’s track and field, including Brown, will be on display and will be well worth a look, even if our minds and handheld devices are following the Reggae Girlz.
Hubert Lawrence has made notes at track side since 1980.