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Who is Jamaica’s female Athlete of the Year?

Published:Wednesday | September 16, 2015 | 12:00 AMHubert Lawrence, Contributor
Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce celebrates winning the 100 metres gold medal at the World Championships in Beijing.
Danielle Williams

Late-season marathons aside, the 2015 athletics campaign is practically over. It ended brilliantly for Jamaica, with the country's second best medal performance at a World Championships or an Olympic Games. Now it's time to begin to choose the Jamaican Athletes of the Year.

In Beijing, for the 15th World Championships, our established stars delivered. Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Hansle Parchment all found their way to the medal podium. They weren't alone. Debutants like Elaine Thompson, Shericka Jackson and O'Dayne Richards also walked away from the Bird's Nest with individual medals.

The best of the new names, however, was Danielle Williams. With Thompson losing a magnificent 200-metre final to flying Dutch woman Dafne Schippers on the line, Williams matched Fraser-Pryce by winning an individual event. She kept her head and her footing in the 100-metre hurdles while others lost theirs and sped to personal best times of 12.58 and 12.57 seconds in the semi and the final.

She went to Beijing with the World University Games title safely tucked away and moved up to fourth fastest on the Jamaican all-time list. Brigitte Foster-Hylton, our first World 100 hurdles champion, and World Championship bronze medal winners Michelle Freeman and Delloreen Ennis, are the only Jamaican women with faster times.


Stiff competition

Despite all that, the Lennox Graham-coached The Queen's School graduate will have a tough time hurdling past Fraser-Pryce to get the Jamaican Athlete of the Year award. The little rocket lost just once over 100 metres, in a jetlagged slog in Shanghai, but clicked off wins everywhere else.

She ran sub-11 times consistently and swished under 10.8 seconds three times. That gave her a career total of 10 at that speed. By comparison, the legendary Merlene Ottey had four sub-10.8 clockings in all her fine career. That's how good Fraser-Pryce was in 2015.

In Beijing, she missed her season's best of 10.74 seconds by a mere 0.02, despite slowing down to raise an arm to mark her third World title in the 100. That allowed the fast-finishing Schippers to catch up a bit, but the win was never in question. By then, her reliable rocket start and smooth, but urgent acceleration had done the damage.

Will the award givers prefer the brilliant emergence of Williams to the season-long consistent quality displayed by Fraser-Pryce?

The deliberations will begin shortly, but it's great that Jamaica has two female World Champions to choose from. Together with Thompson, Jackson, first-time 100-metre finalist Natasha Morrison, first-time 400 hurdles finalist Janieve Russell and repeat triple-jump finalist Kimberly Williams, Fraser-Pryce and Danielle Williams lead us into the Olympic year with cause for optimism.

- Hubert Lawrence has made notes at track side since 1980.