André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Spencer ready to give all in run for 400 hurdles medal
Kaliese Spencer has been close before in world-level 400m hurdles final, but this time around she will be hoping to finally make her way on a medal podium, as Jamaica looks to add three medals to the four already secured, on today's sixth day of athletics competition at the Olympic Games in London.
Jamaica will also have two representatives in the women's 200m final, as defending champion Veronica Campbell-Brown looks to create history by coming the first woman to win three consecutive 200m titles, while 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce will be looking to wrap up the sprint double in one of the races of the Olympics.
Fourth-place finishes at the 2009 and 2011 IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Berlin and Daegu, respectively, for the former IAAF World Junior champion has left her as motivated as ever heading into today's final.
Spencer booked her spot in the final in what is her first trip to the Olympic Games with a second-place finish in her semi-final, with a time of 54.20 behind World champion and gold medal favourite Lashinda Demus of the United States (US), who posted 54.08.
The 25-year-old is looking forward to the test and is confident of her chances to finally break her podium duck.
"It's my first Olympics and I'm in the final, and I give God thanks and I hope to do well," Spencer told The Gleaner.
Spencer, Jamaica's only representative in the final, says she does not feel the pressure of being the only one carrying the expectations of a nation, which expected to have at least two athletes in the women's 400m hurdles final.
"I am definitely not pressured, I am just going out there to do my best and that is always good enough. I am expecting to do well though," said Spencer. "I'm used to going out there and competing with the best people."
For tonight's final, which will run off at 8:45 p.m. (2:45 p.m. Jamaica time) Spencer, who will start in lane 9, says her plan is very simple.
"I'm a person, I just go out there and run from start to finish, I can't pick up in the race, I have to go from the gun and I think I stand a pretty good chance (to medal). I have been working hard all season and I feel good about my chances," she said.
Campbell-Brown was sluggish in her heat, but assaulted the curve from lane nine in the semi-final to post a solid 22.32 to win ahead of American Carmelita Jeter, 22.39.
Fraser-Pryce slowed towards the end as Jamaica-born Sanya Richards-Ross, who now competes for the United States, ran on to win their semi-final in a time of 22.30 with the Jamaican posting 22.34.
Sherone Simpson couldn't find the power she needed in the second 100m, as she finished sixth in 22.71 in a heat that was won by US favourite Allyson Felix in 22.31.
Usain Bolt, 20.39, Yohan Blake, 20.38, and Warren Weir will all feature in today's 200m after they won their respective heats yesterday.
Hansle Parchment, 13.32, is through to today's 110m hurdles semi-final after a second-place finish in his heat. He will be joined by Richard Phillips, whose 13.47 and fifth-place finish was good enough to see him advance as one of the fastest losers.
Andrew Riley, 13.59, also finished fifth, but barely missed out on the next round, while Shermaine WiIliams, who was third in the women's 100m hurdles semi-final with 12.83, also missed out on the final - which was won by Australian Sally Pearson in Olympic record time, 12.35 seconds.