Ja men dominate sprints in Track & Field News' 2012 rankings
Leighton Levy, Sunday Gleaner Writer
Jamaican male sprinters dominated the world rankings in the short sprints for 2012 according to Track and Field News rankings.
The well-respected track and field magazine that has been in publication for more than 60 years recently released its 2012 men rankings that demonstrated just how dominant Jamaica's male sprinters continue to be since they rose to the fore in 2008 when Usain Bolt became the first Jamaican male to win both short-sprint titles at the Beijing OIympics.
According to the rankings, the 26-year-old Bolt, who created history by becoming the first man to successfully defend the 100-metre and 200-metre titles at the Olympic Games when he won the 100 metres in 9.63 seconds and the 200m in 19.32 at the London Games this past summer, not surprisingly is the number one sprinter in both sprints. His teammate Yohan Blake is ranked second. Blake, the 2011 World 100-metre champion copped double silver in London with times of 9.75 and 19.44, respectively. He beat Bolt twice this year, once in each event at the Jamaican National Championships in June.
2004 Olympic champion Justin Gatlin, who was third in London in a personal best 9.79s, was ranked third while Tyson Gay was fourth. The other Jamaican in the top five is Asafa Powell, who in his third Olympics, was once again unable to contend for a medal in London and finished last after aggravating a groin injury that has plagued him since 2005.
The American Ryan Bailey, who a few years ago was tipped as the man to challenge Bolt, comes in sixth in the rankings just ahead of Nesta Carter, whose time of 9.78 in 2010 makes him the fifth-fastest man in history. Carter is followed by Michael Frater in eighth spot. Frater won his second Olympic sprint relay gold medal this past summer along with teammates Carter, Blake and Bolt. Together, they smashed the world record of 37.04s they set in Daegu in 2011 and became the first team ever to break the 37-second barrier in the 4x100m relay with an incredible time of 36.84 seconds.
Rounding out the top 10 is American sprinter Mike Rodgers and Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre.
Five men in the world's top 10 in the 100 metres is a clear demonstration of how strong Jamaica remains in the 100 metres but it is in the 200 metres that the depth of the island's sprinting is seen. Once again, Blake is ranked second, but three other Jamaicans round out the top five. Nickel Ashmeade, who trains with Tyson Gay in Clermont, Florida, is ranked third. Jason Young is ranked fourth while Olympic bronze medallist Warren Weir is fifth. Ashmeade ran a season best 19.85s in Zurich, while Young had a season best 19.86 and Weir, 19.84. Young and Weir are coached by Glen Mills.
The remainder of the rankings sees American Wallace Spearmon at six, the Netherlands' Churandy Martina at seven, Lemaitre at eight with unknown Americans Maurice Mitchell and Calesio Newman at nine and 10, respectively.
Despite their dominance in the sprints however, few other Jamaican men factored in the other disciplines. 110-metre hurdler Hansle Parchment, the Olympic bronze medallist, ranks fourth in his event that is topped by Olympic champion and world record holder Aries Merritt. Americans Jason Richardson and David Oliver make up the top three.
Leford Greene is ranked ninth in the 400-metre hurdles, which is headed by Puerto Rico Javier Culson. However, in what could be considered a major disappointment for Jamaica, not a single Jamaican made the top 10 for the 400 metres. Olympic champion Kirani James of Grenada is ranked No. 1, Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic is second while American Lashawn Merritt is third.