Russell, Fraser-Pryce tipped for women's sprints
Raymond Graham, Gleaner Writer
A number of places on the national team to this year's IAAF World Championships will be up for grabs this weekend when the four-day Supreme Ventures Limited National Senior Championships is staged at the National Stadium.
Today, we highlight five of the premier women's events and those who are likely to fill the automatic qualifying spots for the August 10-18 World Championships in Moscow, Russia.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce qualifies automatically as last year's Diamond League winner, while Veronica Campbell-Brown's positive drugs test rules her out, so the battle for the top three spots this weekend is wide open.
Former national champions Kerron Stewart, Aleen Bailey and Sherone Simpson are expected to face the start but all three could find it difficult to come out on top of Carrie Russell, Schillone Calvert and Samantha Henry-Robinson.
Under the guidance of Stephen Francis at MVP, Russell has shown tremendous improvement, and with a season best of 11.08 seconds, she has the best time in the field. Stewart with a season best 11.10 seconds has shown signs of regaining top form and could return to winning ways. Calvert with a season best of 11.17 in defeating Simpson recently at an All Comers meet appears to be injury free and should run well.
A very close race but showing great improvement in her start, Russell is tipped to go all the way and win her first Senior National title.
Top 3: 1. Carrie Russell, 2. Kerron Stewart, 3. Sherone Simpson.
Most of the field in the 100m will face the starter. They will be joined by Fraser-Pryce and Aneisha McLaughlin. Fraser-Pryce has a season best of 22.38 seconds and looks a cinch here.
It should be a bang-up finish for the two other remaining places as Patricia Hall who has a season best 22.51 will more than likely concentrate on the 400m.
Following her gutsy performance in unfavourable conditions at the New York Diamond League where she finished a close second to Veronica Campbell-Brown in a season best 22.63, McLaughlin looks ready to fulfil her early promise while Stewart with a season best of 22.71 and the veteran Simpson with a season best 22.83 seconds cannot be written off.
Top 3: 1. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, 2. Aneisha McLaughlin, 3. Kerron Stewart
University of Technology's Stephanie McPherson impressed at the Jamaica Invitational on May 4 clocking a personal best 50.43, and having many-time national champion Novlene Williams-Mills well beaten.
Williams-Mills, however, came back to beat McPherson at the Diamond League meet in Eugene, Oregon. Now back on home turf, McPherson could bounce back to good form and capture her first national senior title but Williams-Mills with a season best of 50.73 is the defending champion and will not go down easily, while Patricia Hall, who has been very busy on the circuit overseas, is the only other Jamaican to have gone under 51 seconds and could spring a surprise.
Top 3: 1. Novlene Williams-Mills, 2. Stephanie McPherson, 3. Patricia Hall.
This event should provide one of the closest finishes among females at the championships.
Jamaica has done very well in the event in the past with Brigitte Foster-Hyton winning gold in 2009 in Berlin but the current crop are struggling as only two have gone under 13 seconds so far this season, Danielle Williams (12.89) and Andrea Bliss (12.91).
It will be very interesting to see how well former Olympic and World Championships 400-metre hurdles gold medallist, Melaine Walker, competes here after switching events this season. She has only raced once clocking 13.05 to finish in mid pack in Florida two weeks ago.
With her great foot speed, Danielle Williams could go all the way. Her sister Shermaine is preferred, however, and we could see two sisters representing the country at the highest level in an event for the first time.
Top 3: 1. Shermaine Williams, 2. Danielle Williams, 3. Melaine Walker
A new champion will definitely be crowned here as Melaine Walker, the many-time champion, has switched events while Kaliese Spencer, who has a season best of 54.91 seconds, is unlikely to face the starter here as she is the Diamond League winner and has automatic qualification to the World Championships.
Ristananna Tracy with a season best of 55.10 seconds looks the best of the rest here and should win.
Top 3: 1. Ristananna Tracy, 2. Shevon Stoddart, 3. Nickeisha Wilson.