Mon | May 25, 2020

Hubert Lawrence | Sub-11 at Champs not far-fetched

Published:Thursday | April 9, 2020 | 12:13 AM

When Corey Bennett, Hydel’s expert track and field coach, speaks, pay attention. He isn’t given to make hype-filled statements and his body of work at Hydel is impressive. So his picture of Kevona Davis and Ashanti Moore not only breaking the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships (Champs) Class One 100m record of 11.13 seconds, but also breaching the 11-second barrier hit hard. It’s a sign of how far we’ve come as a sprint power.

The record was set by Vere Technical High School star Veronica Campbell-Brown, scarcely six months after she had done the double at the 2000 World Junior Championships in Chile. It has stood largely unchallenged since she set it on Friday, April 6, 2001. However, evidence was piling up that her record was in danger.

Christania Williams, an Oracabesa High transfer to Edwin Allen High, powered home in 11.19 seconds. Edwin Allen struck again in 2018, when Davis destroyed the Class Two record and left it at 11.16 seconds, and again last year with a fine time of 11.19 seconds. Minutes later, Hydel co-captain Moore won the Class One final by a big margin in 11.17 seconds.

When Moore bounced 11.74 seconds at the Jamaica College (JC) Invitational, onlookers began to think the unthinkable – sub-11! A follow-up run of 11.47 seconds didn’t hurt. When Davis replied with solid runs herself, a big Champs Class One duel was on the cards.

Sub-11 clockings are hard to come by. By my count on, that threshold has been beaten 16 times in the month of April, with Nigeria’s Chioma Ajunwa topping the list at 10.92 seconds in the same 1992 season she ended as Olympic long jump champion.

Sub-11 times are even harder to find in March. In fact, my scan of only found one – a 10.97 seconds by brilliant American Evelyn Ashford in 1982 on March 8 in San Diego. Two years later, Ashford was Olympic 100m champion and holder of the world record at 10.76 seconds.

As an aside, the fastest early season 100m I remember came at the 2004 Gibson-McCook Relays. Just months after her departure from Manchester High School, University of Technology freshman Sherone Simpson dashed the 100 in 11.11 seconds and jump-started her rise to the elite cadre of elite women’s sprinters.

That was on February 28, 2004, with Simpson months away from her 20th birthday. Moore is at the same stage of life, with Davis a year younger.

Sadly, Moore had a mid-season injury but when I left JC in January, but based on what I saw, I felt sure she would go faster than ever before in 2020. Add a fit Davis and you have a recipe for fast times. Sprinkle good wind conditions on Champs Friday, March 27, and there’s a good chance that Campbell’s 2001 record would be under threat.

You can never tell about records. As the outbreak of the novel coronavirus has reminded us all, life is unpredictable. However, the possibility outlined by coach Bennett is compelling. It’s a marker for the future. Davis, Moore, the Clayton twins, Tia and Tina, their Edwin Allen teammate Brandy Hall, and Holmwood speedball Saskieka Steele precocious Brianna Lyston of St Jago all have the potential to continue Jamaica’s fine tradition. Led by 2018 World Under-20 100m and 200m champion Briana Williams, they present a youthful speed force to the world. I can hardly wait to see them blossom.

Hubert Lawrence has scrutinised local and international track and field since 1980.