Mon | Aug 26, 2019

The Danielle Dilemma

Published:Sunday | July 21, 2019 | 12:37 AMAndre Lowe - Sports Editor
Danielle Williams of Jamaica features after winning the women’s 100 metres hurdles race final at the IAAF Diamond League athletics meeting at London Stadium in London, Saturday, July 20, 2019. Williams clocked a national record 12.32 seconds for the win. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

The Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) has a bit of an issue.

Her name is Danielle Williams.

Bumped from the National Senior Championships’ 100m hurdles final for a controversial false-start violation, Williams, whose back-door route to a spot on Jamaica’s World Championships team now rests solely on her winning the Diamond Race in the event, continues to test the administration’s stance.

Her blistering 12.32 seconds national record and world-leading run at the London Anniversary Games yesterday arrived after a 12.41 seconds run earlier in the heat and a little over a week since she posted 12.52 seconds at the Monaco Diamond League meet.

“I am thrilled with that. My aim was always to run fast. It has been coming all season, and it was just about when,” said Williams. “I am looking forward to the next stage of the Diamond League in Birmingham and, hopefully, on to the finals.”

She’s the hottest hurdler on the planet, but she doesn’t have a ticket to Doha, and as JAAA president Dr Warren Blake outlined, a Diamond Race win in the event and the IAAF’s wild-card entry that would follow present no guarantees for the 2015 world champion.

The JAAA – perhaps partly due to its considerable list of administrative faux pas over the years, has already come under criticism for its handling of the situation.

Williams was called for a false start and expelled from the race. After a lengthy protest, the race was sent off again without her and again had to be called back. However, with several athletes suffering injuries, the JAAA deemed the race null and void and decided it would select the representatives from the IAAF world ranking as of August 16.

Not guarantee

They were quite clear, however, that Williams’ false start meant that she would not be considered and noted that an IAAF wild-card entry, by virtue of a potential Diamond Race victory, would not guarantee her selection to the team.

It is a situation they will have to figure out – politics for politicians if you may.

Williams, for her part, has been doing what she can, campaigning with burning motivation and scorching times.

Yesterday’s run produced the fastest time recorded in the event for two years, and while she will have to clear a few more hurdles – both on the track and off it – if she is to get to Doha, the 26-year-old is for now doing all she can – run fast.

Nia Ali, 12.57, took second place in the event while another American, Queen Claye, 12.64, got third with Megan Tapper, 12.66, finishing fourth.

Another big performance came from Tajay Gayle in the long jump, where he took second place behind Luvo Manyonga, 8.37m, with a personal best, 8.32m, which puts him as the joint sixth-best jumper this season.

“I’m happy with the personal best. The win didn’t really matter to me as from training, I didn’t expect that,” said Gayle.

Yohan Blake clocked 9.97 seconds for third place in the 100m behind Akani Simbine, 9.93 and Zharnel Hughes, 9.95. Never one to doubt himself, Blake, the national champion, is promising more.

“It’s alright. Thank God I came out injury-free. I wanted to make a race of it, but I could tell I just stumbled, which kind of knocked me off, but I’m feeling great. In the season it’s a bit early with me running times like this right now. But come Doha, I’m going to bring it,” Blake said.

Elaine Thompson’s 22.13 was enough to give her the win in the non-Diamond Race over 200m ahead of Marie-Josee Ta Lou, 22.36 and Beth Dobbin, 22.50. Sashalee Forbes was fourth in 22.93, and Schillonie Calvert-Powell, seventh in 23.16.

Shericka Jackson, 50.69, also secured a win in the 400m ahead of Stephenie Ann McPherson, 50.74, and Laviai Nielson, 50.83, while Jaheel Hyde, 49.79, could only manage seventh in the 400m hurdles. That race was won by Karsten Warholm in an amazing 47.12 seconds, a new personal best and world-leading mark.

Meanwhile, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce produced an anchor leg for the ages, to lead a Jamaica Select team, which also included Natasha Morrison, Thompson, and Joniel Smith, to a 42.29 seconds win over Great Britain and Northern Ireland, 42.30 and China, 42.71 in the women’s 4x100m relay.

Today’s second day of action will see Fedrick Dacres competing in the discus. Akeem Bloomfield, Demish Gaye, and Nathon Allen will feature in the men’s 400m, Fraser-Pryce and Morrison will compete in the 100m, while Natoya Goule and Tissanna Hickling will feature in the 800m and long jump respectively.

National Champion Rushell Clayton and Janieve Russell line up in the 400m hurdles with Omar McLeod and Ronald Levy running in the 110m hurdles event.

Jamaican Schedule

8:03 a.m. Men’s Discus

Fedrick Dacres

8:04 a.m. Men;s 400m

Demish Gaye, Akeem Bloomfield, Nathon Allen

8:15 a.m. Women’s 100m

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Natasha Morrison

8:35 a.m. Women’s 800m

Natoya Goule

8:40 a.m. Women’s Long Jump

Tissanna Hickling

9:29 a.m. Women’s 400m Hurdles

Rushell Clayton, Janieve Russell

9:39 a.m. Men’s 110m Hurdles

Omar McLeod, Ronald Levy