THE EDITOR, Sir:
At the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) trials in June, there was a mishap in the 100 metres hurdles final. Danielle Williams was disqualified for a false start, and, despite her prolonged protest, the disqualification stood.
The race eventually got under way, or so we though; one athlete actually crossed the finish line, while another didn’t leave the blocks. The starter tried to recall the athletes, but not all heard it. The race was eventually scrapped as it was stated that many athletes had suffered injuries during what could only be termed as a faulty start.
With the race scrapped, which athletes will represent Jamaica in the event at the World Championships of Athletics in Doha, Qatar, come September? How will these athletes be chosen? Will the 2015 champion, Williams, now stand a chance to be on the team, given that the race was scrapped? These questions require immediate answers.
The JAAA, in response, stated that the three athletes who will represent Jamaica in the event will be selected from the seven competitors who remained in the event at the trials after Williams was disqualified. The selection will come down to based on the three with the highest ranking in the event the IAAF rankings as of August 16. However, Williams remained ineligible because of her disqualification, irrespective of her ranking.
The JAAA, having made firm its stance, said there was no hope for Danielle Williams to compete in Doha. But, alas, there was the winner of the diamond league event earning a wild-card entry to compete in the event. This was Danielle’s only chance.
However, the president of the JAAA moved swiftly to quell her hopes, stating that in the event that she earns a wild card via the Diamond League, “we, the federation, would meet to discuss if we would accept it”.
This was,, undoubtedly, the first time the Jamaican public had heard such a stance on the wild-card entry.
On Saturday, July 20, 2019, in the heats of her event at the London Diamond League, Williams sped to 12.42 seconds, just short of her Jamaican counterpart Janeek Brown’s world-leading time of 12.40 seconds.
A few hours passed, and the final was upon us. The athletes were in the blocks, the gun went off, and it was a clean start. Danielle powers through and dismantled the field. it was one of the widest victory margins ever seen in a major competitive sprint hurdles event. She sped to a world-leading time and national record of 12.32 seconds to become the seventh-fastest woman in the event in history. It was also the fastest time recorded in the event in the last two years. With this commanding victory, she now leads the Diamond League standings in the event with a few more meets to go, including the Diamond League final, where a win would secure her wild-card entry to compete at the World Championships in Doha.
The sprint hurdles event tends to provide great drama, and fans of Williams are cheering her on and hoping that she gets that wild-card entry. Even if she fails to secure that wild-card entry, her performance throughout the course of the season, especially on Saturday, should be enough to encourage the JAAA to change its stance and allow her to compete in Doha. She is currently ranked No. 2 in the event, the only Jamaican in the top 10, the closest being former world lead Janeek Brown, ranked at No. 13.
It’s important that the JAAA remember that the scrapped event at the trials means that no one has yet earned their place on the world Championships team. Allowing Danielle to run would not be robbing anyone of their place.