Sat | Sep 18, 2021

Expectations high among Jamaican trio

Female quarter-milers qualify with ease

Published:Wednesday | August 4, 2021 | 12:07 AMAndrÈ Lowe/Sports Editor
Stephenie-Ann McPherson cruising to an easy victiory in the women’s 400m heats yesterday.
Stephenie-Ann McPherson cruising to an easy victiory in the women’s 400m heats yesterday.
A relaxed Candice McLeod on the way to an easy win in the women’s 400m heats yesterday.
A relaxed Candice McLeod on the way to an easy win in the women’s 400m heats yesterday.
Roneisha McGregor competing in the women’s 400-metre heats yesterday.
Roneisha McGregor competing in the women’s 400-metre heats yesterday.
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TOKYO, Japan: JAMAICA’S representatives in the women’s 400 metres all advanced to the semi-finals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, following first-round action inside the Tokyo Olympic Stadium yesterday. Stephenie-Ann McPherson is the leading...

TOKYO, Japan:

JAMAICA’S representatives in the women’s 400 metres all advanced to the semi-finals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, following first-round action inside the Tokyo Olympic Stadium yesterday.

Stephenie-Ann McPherson is the leading Jamaican in the event this season with her personal best 49.61 seconds clocking from the National Senior Championships and the Moscow 2013 World Championships bronze medal winner was the fastest athlete in black, green and gold, after winner her heat in 50.89 seconds, the fifth fastest time on the day.

McPherson’s only other trip to the Olympic Games ended in a sixth place finish in the final, but after enjoying her best season to date, the 32 year-old believes the Tokyo 2020 Games is her best chance to get on the Olympics podium.

“The first one is always the hardest one for me, but once I get that first one out of the way and get to the second race, then I’ll know where I am,” said McPherson.

“Yes, I am in the best shape of my life and I was also in my best shape in my life in 2019, but then I got hurt. Back then I missed a lot of work so I never had enough endurance to take me through the rounds, now I did everything I was supposed to so hopefully that can carry me through the rounds here,” McPherson added.

Debutant Candice McLeod belied her inexperience at this level and was quite composed in taking her heat in 51.09 seconds.

LITTLE NERVOUS, BUT HAPPY

McLeod admitted that she was a little nervous, but was happy with her execution in her first major assignment.

“I was Ok with the run, nothing really exciting. I was a little nervous at first, but I’m happy I got this blow-out, I feel much better now,” McLeod told The Gleaner.

“Really I just wanted to qualify as easily as possible. I know that each round might take a little more from me or even a lot more from me, but I’m really prepared for what is to come. I worked hard enough to get here and whatever I do is definitely going to be my best, because I never yet perform and not do my best, regardless of what time it is, it’s definitely my best. I’m looking forward to more,” said McLeod, who has enjoyed an amazing season of improvement.

McLeod started 2021 running 51.94 seconds and lowered her personal best several times throughout the season, eventually clocking an impressive 49.91 to finish second at the Olympic Trials in June.

A close friend of 100m bronze medallist Shericka Jackson, McLeod noted that the sprinter’s presence has certainly helped her to settle into life at the Olympics.

Roneisha McGregor also secured her path into the semi-finals, finishing second in her heat in a time of 51.14 seconds.

“It was a good run you know, just going out there qualifying for the next round, that is what matters,” said McGregor. “Being at the Olympics is a great achievement for me and I’m just taking each round one step at a time with the aim of getting into the final.”

Dominican Republic’s Marileidy Paulino, 50.06 seconds, is the fastest qualifier into the next round. She is followed by The Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller-Uibo, 50.50, Cuba’s Roxana Gomez, 50.76, American veteran Allyson Felix, 50.84 and McPherson.

The semi-finals of the women’s 400m will take place at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium today at 7:30 p.m. (5:30 a.m. Jamaica time).

andre.lowe@gleanerjm.com