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Eligible! - Sprint hurdler Williams now looks set for World Championships

Published:Friday | August 16, 2019 | 12:33 AMRaymond Graham/Gleaner Writer

After weeks of speculation over whether or not sprint hurdler Danielle Williams would get a chance to compete at the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar, the 2015 world champion now seems set to make the trip, after the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) yesterday announced that she is now eligible for selection.

In what is a major departure from its original position, the JAAA, in a release yesterday, stated that after consultation and a review of its own selection policy, it felt this was the fairest way to proceed for all concerned. The JAAA also noted that the fact that it declared the event “null and void” at the National Senior Championships in June, also meant that Williams’ disqualification from the event at the meet could not stand.

“All I can say is that the 100m hurdles at the National Championships was null and void and she (Williams) becomes eligible for selection,” was all JAAA president Dr Warren Blake was prepared to offer yesterday when contacted by The Gleaner.

Williams, the number one ranked sprint hurdler in the world this year and the world leader in the 100m hurdles with a time of 12.32 seconds – the national record, became the centre of a controversial 100m hurdles final at the Trials. The sprinter was penalised for a false start, but refused to leave the track, forcing a lengthy delay. When the event finally went off without Williams, it was again recalled, but had to then be called off and was declared by the JAAA to be “null and void”, after several of the participants suffered injury.

The JAAA initially said Williams would not be considered for selection due to her false start, and that the next three best ranked Jamaicans, as of August 16, based on the IAAF’s world ranking system, would be selected to represent the country in Qatar at the September 27 - October 6 World Championships. It was felt that Williams’ only possible route to the World Championships would be as a wild card entry, if she managed to win the event in the Diamond Race.

Meanwhile, Williams has been in exceptional form since, posting times of 12.52, 12.41 and, of course, 12.32 seconds, which makes her a strong contender for the gold medal in Doha.

Chance for selection

The JAAA release, which notes that the Jamaican representatives for the event will now be known on September 6. The closing date for entries for the World Championships now opens the door for Williams’ selection, meaning one of the athletes, who could miss out on the team is Yanique Thompson, who is currently the fourth-best ranked Jamaican in the event with a score of 1202 points, based on the ranking, released on August 13 ranking. Rankings are released on a weekly basis on Tuesdays.

Thompson’s coach Maurice Wilson, who is also the Technical Director of the National Senior team says he will be meeting with his athletes and support staff at Sprintec to discuss the decision and its consequences.

“We will meet with the stakeholders of the club to see if the (JAAA’s decision) puts any of our athletes in an unfair position for final selection,” said Wilson.

Williams tops the IAAF World Rankings with 1385 points. Megan Tapper (1263) is next best, followed by Janeek Brown (1257) and Thompson (1202).

Williams currently leads the Diamond Race standing and will contest the final on September 6 at the Brussels Diamond League final. Both Brown and Tapper have an outside chance of qualifying for the Brussels final with a fourth placed or higher finish at Sunday’s Birmingham Diamond League, depending on other results. If a Jamaican wins the Diamond Race in the event, that person would secure a wild card entry and Jamaica would then be eligible to enter four athletes for the event in Doha.