There were certainly a few surprises as the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) yesterday named the country’s team for the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar, at a press conference at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in Kingston. Thirty females and 25 males will make the trip, but there were at least a couple names that piqued interest.
The female team is headed by Olympic double sprint champion, Elaine Thompson, multiple world and Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and 2015 world champion and Diamond League 100 metre hurdles winner, Danielle Williams.
On the male side, defending 110m hurdles champion Omar McLeod and Commonwealth Games discus champion Fedrick Dacres will carry the bulk of the heavy lifting where medal expectations are concerned.
However, while those names were quite expected, the provisional selection of embattled double World Under-20 sprint champion Briana Williams and the addition of quarter-miler Nathon Allen came as a major surprise.
Williams, who was third at the National Senior Championships in the women’s 100 metres in June, is set to face the Independent Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel on September 23, 24, and 25, after an anti-doping violation at Trials.
With the World Championships beginning on September 27, and competition in the women’s 100m scheduled to commence a day later, it would take an extraordinary turnaround for the 17-year-old to make it, this, of course, if she is cleared of any fault. Decisions are normally returned weeks after a hearing ends.
In any event, JAAA boss Dr Warren Blake is leaving all cards on the table.
“We took into consideration that an individual is innocent until proven guilty, and so we have decided to include her (Williams) provisionally in the team,” said Blake.
Both Akeem Bloomfield and Allen were named in the team, with Bloomfield down to compete in the 400 metres and 4x400m and Allen listed as a reserve in the 400 metres and as a member of the 4x400m relay team.
Bloomfield no surprise
Despite only competing in the 200m at the Trials, Bloomfield, the number-one-ranked Jamaican quarter-miler, was selected for the 400 metres. While his inclusion was not a surprise having met the criterion of attending the National Senior Championships, Allen’s addition also raised a few eyebrows.
Blake also had an answer for this.
“The persons who competed had no good time (qualifying time) and Allen is one of three Jamaicans to run sub-45 seconds this season and he was at the Championships and was ready to run, but withdrew at the last minute due to injury concerns, and, therefore, he got a medical exemption,” said Blake.
Of note, the inclusion of sprint hurdler, Williams, who got a wild card from the IAAF after winning the Diamond League final, allowed the JAAA to name a fourth athlete for the event.
Williams and the JAAA were embroiled in controversy after a false start fiasco at Trials.
She was originally declared ineligible for selection but the matter was essentially settled when that position was softened by the JAAA. Williams, who lowered the national record to 12.32 seconds, has been the form sprint hurdler in the world and is now the clear favourite for the top podium spot in the event in Doha.
Her coach, Lennox Graham, spoke to The Gleaner minutes after her selection was confirmed.
“The focus now is on three more races, nothing else,” said Graham.”The approach so far is we have taken each race on its merit as the focus is to get technically better, and we don’t try to get too far ahead of ourselves. She has broken the national record, and I am happy, but that doesn’t matter when you go to the World Championships, and that is where the focus is. We try to keep it very simple as she has been there before, and four years ago, she was the most unlikely winner, so it is just one day at a time,” Graham said.
Meanwhile, Thompson along with Fraser-Pryce and Shanieka Ricketts, will also be expected to push for medals at the championships. Fraser-Pryce and Thompson, who will both double at the event, both share the 10.73 seconds world leading time in the 100m, while Thompson’s 22.00 seconds makes her the second fastest in the 200 metres, behind the Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller-Uibo 21.74 seconds, who will not contest the event in Doha.
Ricketts’ personal best of 14.93 metres is at number two in the triple jump so far this year, behind leader, Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela (15.41m). On the male side, Dacres’ personal best of 70.78 metres done at the Rabat Diamond League has him at number two in the discus event, just behind world leader Daniel Stahl (71.86m), while McLeod, who got a wild card entry after winning two years ago, stands at number four in the 110-metres hurdles with his 13.07 seconds. Also at yesterday’s press conference, the JAAA was presented with sponsorship of $21 million, which include $8 million from GraceKennedy, sponsors of the one week training camp and $13 million from the Government, with Minister of Sport, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange making the announcement.
Females: Elaine Thompson - 100m, 200m, 4x100m; Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce - 100m, 200m, 4x100m; Briana Williams - 100m, 4x100m; Jonielle Smith - 100M (reserve); 4x100m Natalliah Whyte - 4x100m; Natasha Morrison - 4x100m; Schillone Calvert- Powell - 200m, 4x100m; Shashalee Forbes - 4x100, 200m (reserve); Shericka Jackson - 400m, 4x400m; Anastasia Leroy - 400m, 4x400m; Roneisha McGregor - 400m (reserve), 4x400m; Tiffany James - 4x400m; Shiann Salmon - 400m Hurdles, 4x400m; Janieve Russell - 400m Hurdles (reserve), 4x400m; Natoya Goule - 800m, 4x400m; Ashia Praught Leer - 1500m; Danielle Williams - 100m hurdles; Janeek Brown - 100m hurdles; Megan Tapper - 100m hurdles; Yanique Thompson - 100m hurdles; Rushell Clayton - 400m hurdles; Rhonda Whyte - 400m hurdles; Tisanna Hickling - long jump; Chanice Porter - long jump; Shanieke Ricketts - triple jump; Shadae Lawrence - discus; Shanice Love - discus; Danniel Thomas Dodd - shot put.
Males: Yohan Blake - 100m, 200m, 4x100m; Tyquendo Tracy - 100m, 4x100; Rasheed Dwyer - 100m, 200m, 4x100m; Julian Forte - 4x100m; Oshane Bailey - 4x100m; Andre Ewars - 100m (reserve), 200m, 4x100m; Akeem Bloomfield - 200m (reserve), 400m, 4x400m; Demish Gaye - 400m, 4x400m; Terry Thomas - 4x400m; Javon Francis - 4x400m; Rusheen McDonald - 400m, 4x400m; Devaughn Baker - 4x400m; Nathon Allen - 400m (reserve), 4x400m; Demar Murray - 4x400m; Omar McLeod - 110m hurdles; Ronald Levy - 110m hurdles; Orlando Bennett - 110m hurdles; Andrew Riley - 110m hurdles; Kemar Mowatt - 400m hurdles; Tajay Gayle - long jump; Jordon Scott - triple jump; Fredrick Dacres - discus; Traves Smikle - discus; Chad Wright - discus; O’Dayne Richards - shot put.
Management Team: Lincoln Eatmon - team manager; Donald Quarrie - technical leader; Maurice Wilson - head coach; Paul Francis - coach; Julian Robinson - coach; David Riley - coach; Jerry Holness - coach; Bert Cameron - coach; Patrick Dawson - coach; Gavin James - massage therapist; Collin Turner - massage therapist; Okeile Stewart - massage therapist; Romario Barrett - massage therapist; Alvin Green - massage therapist; Marie Tavares - assistant team manager; Dionne Hemmings McCatty - assistant team manager; Dr Paula Dawson - team doctor; Dr Joann Brown - physiotherapist.