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Jackson happy, but ‘hates’ 400m

Published:Tuesday | August 25, 2015 | 12:00 AMAndre Lowe
Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson and Novlene Williams-Mills compete alongside the United States’ Allyson Felix in the women’s 400 metres semi-finals at the IAAF World Championships yesterday.


Twenty-one-year-old Jamaican quarter-miler, Shericka Jackson, has been having a love-hate relationship with the 400 metres ever since her coach, Stephen Francis, tried to convince her it's the best event for her to run.

Jackson, who had success at the regional and international stage as a youth and junior athlete in the 200m, felt, and still feels, that she is more of a 200-metre type of girl and not even a place in the 400m final at the IAAF World Championships and a new personal best in the event seemed to change her mind.

The fast-rising University of Technology-MVP Track Club athlete sent a warning shot to the semi-finals inside the Bird's Nest, dropping back and easing to a 50.03-second clocking for second place behind Allyson Felix in their heat yesterday.

That was the fastest time by a Jamaican this year and is, in fact, the best time registered by a Jamaican woman since 2013. Only four women have gone faster than Jackson this year, and only seven Jamaicans have ever gone faster.


Dark horse


Interestingly, after such a comfortable run, the youngster, who many considered a dark horse in the event, might have shown that it will take a lot more than more popular names to beat her.

"I'm feeling good. I'm a person who hates the 400 metres, but at this point my coach, Stephen Francis, thinks it's the best event for me. I'm really happy I made it to the final," said Jackson, who arrived in Beijing having never competed in a 400m as a senior athlete at any international event.

"I followed my coach's instruction, which was to get out and get a good place in the race, and even if I finish second, that I should ensure it's a close one. I went out there just to make the final and then take it from there," she explained. "My plan was to run a hard 50 metres and then relax, but I think I went out a bit too slowly so I had a lot of ground to make up."

Jackson, added that she wasn't affected by the presence of Felix in her semi-final and that she is eager to take on the challenge and experience the final.

"I trust my coach and I trust my body to know what type of shape I am in. Watching my teammates compete motivates me a lot, too, because it helps with the nervousness," Jackson said. "I have learnt to run my own race and take it each step at a time. Medals aren't handed out in the semi-finals or the heats, so you have to save a little for the final."

She may be looking towards the final, but she isn't any closer to embracing the event just yet. Either way, Jackson's performances have so far certainly made it hard to argue against her coach's decision.

"No, I still don't like it (400m), the workload is pretty hard, but you have to put in the work if you want to be the champion," smiled Jackson.

The women's 400m final is set for tomorrow morning at 7:40.