Ottey boosts Shelly -Expects big things from Vere's Jackson, James
André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Track legend Merlene Ottey is expecting big things from Vere Technical pair Shericka Jackson and Olivia James, two youngsters who she is expecting to break through the senior ranks in the near future and continue Jamaica's sprint dominance.
Ottey also said she had long told Jamaica's current female sprint standout, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, that she would lower her national 100m mark.
Fraser-Pryce, who successfully defended her Olympic 100m title at the London Games in 2012, erased Ottey's national 100m record by posting 10.70 seconds at the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association/Supreme Ventures National Senior Championships last year, eclipsing Ottey's previous best of 10.74.
"It was good; when I saw Shelly-Ann before she got the record, I told her that it was either her or Kerron Stewart who was going to get the record, so I asked who wanted it more," said Ottey.
"She went out and got the record and I told her also that she can run a good 200m, because if she can run 10.70 (in the 100m) I was sure she could run 22 seconds (in the 200m)," she added.
Ottey also believes it's only a matter of time before her 21.64 national 200m record, which has stood since 1991, is lowered.
"I was concerned (that it hasn't been lowered yet), but I think they (female sprinters) are still young. I don't think they start getting old until they are 35, so they still have time to break that one," Ottey said.
Ottey, who won 14 World Championships and nine Olympic medals for Jamaica - before switching allegiance to Slovenia - believes Vere Technical youngsters James and Jackson have all the tools to make the transition, revealing she has given them a challenge.
The pair are among the island's most promising athletes on the local and international fronts and Ottey is expecting them to continue the fine line of Vere students who have gone on to represent Jamaica at the senior level with distinction.
Ottey stands out among some of Jamaica's brightest names in track and field who have passed through the halls of the Clarendon-based school, with the likes of Deon Hemmings-McCatty, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Aleen Bailey and Beverley McDonald among the celebrated alumni.
Ottey, who spent a couple days - during her visit to Jamaica - at her alma mater last week, said she has been watching the progress of the athletes and believes they can make Jamaica's team to the next Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
"In terms of potential, there are two young ones that I really like," said Ottey, in reference to James and Jackson. "I told them that I am looking for them in Brazil and I am very optimistic for them and I will be cheering for them. Not only would they be there, but I told them that I think they will be taking medals as well."
Jackson is a 200m bronze medallist from the 2011 IAAF World Youth Championships in Lille, France, where James also won bronze in the 400m.