Fri | Oct 18, 2019

Hubert Lawrence | The tale of two quests: Part Two

Published:Thursday | July 18, 2019 | 12:07 AM

You don’t always get what you want. Life would be perfect if the bid for glory by the Sunshine Girls at the Netball World Cup had gone well so far. Two key losses, one to South Africa and the other to top rival England, have put the Girls in a precarious position. Now all Jamaica can do is win its remaining group matches and hope for the best.

It could all still work out. In the same way that South Africa inflicted an unexpected defeat on our Girls, surprise results could put Jamaica back in the reckoning. Such is life. Jamaica hasn’t finished outside the top four in the World Cup since 1987 and hopefully, that won’t happen now.

That quest for glory is hanging by a thread, but the quest by 100-metre hurdler Danielle Williams to get to the IAAF World Championships is still alive. Last week, at a Diamond League meet punctuated by a world record in the mile by Sifan Hassan of Holland and four other world-leading performances, Williams zoomed a near-PR run of 12.52 seconds behind world record holder Kendra Harrison of the United States.

PROVED HER RANK

With her path to Jamaica’s World Championships team blocked by an uncalled faulty start at last month’s National Championships, Williams showed why she was ranked number four in the world by the respected US publication TRACK AND FIELD NEWS. Out fast, the 27 year-old Jamaican came close to her personal best of 12.48 seconds set last year.

The result has placed her in a safe fourth position in the League’s 100-metre hurdles standing.

Her quest continues this weekend in London when the Diamond League tour stops in the British capital. A strong performance will advance her cause by drawing her closer to the League final in September. A win there will open another road to the World Championships for her.

If she is successful, Jamaica will have the right to enter four 100-metre hurdlers at the Worlds. That’s what happened in 2017 because Williams arrived there as reigning World Champion with an IAAF wild-card slot into the first round. In events where a country doesn’t have the reigning champion, the Diamond League winner is treated in the same way.

Her only other route to Doha, the host city of the World Championships, is to be considered by selectors when they peruse the IAAF World Rankings roughly a month from now.

There are no assurances. The Girls must now take care of business in their remaining group games and watch the teams around them decide their fate. Williams must qualify for the Diamond League final AND win it. It’s that simple in both cases.

One of my favourite moments in sport came in 2005. A big AC Milan team took the field for the second half of the European Champions League final three goals to the good over Liverpool of England. Implausibly, Steven Gerrard’s Liverpool fought back to 3-3 and survived Milan’s attacks in extra time. Then, with goalie Jerzy Dudek in inspired form, the men in red finished the job by winning the ensuing penalty shoot-out.

The victory inspired even those who weren’t hardcore sports fans.

Despite the obvious obstacles, this is how the Sunshine Girls and Danielle Williams must face the next few days. The history of sport is filled with remarkable turns of good fortune. Now, they must go game by game, race by race, trusting and hoping.

 

Hubert Lawrence has made notes from the edge of his seat at trackside since 1980.