Jamaicans launch medal hunt at World Athletics Championships
IN WHAT has emerged a memorable August for sport, technical leader of Jamaica’s track and field athletics team, Maurice Wilson, has no doubt that the country’s athletes will deliver, as the chase for glory begins today on Day One of the 19th World Athletics Championships.
The Jamaicans will get their first chance to win a medal in the mixed 4x400 metres relay, where they will run in heat two of the morning session. Poland heads the field of eight where Jamaica, in terms of a season best, are ranked among the bottom three. And with the top three assured a place in the final that will be run late in the afternoon session, Jamaica will have to perform better than they have recently to claim a place among the ultimate medal contenders.
Wilson has set a double-digit target of medals, similar to last year, with the chief goal of maintaining the standard that Jamaicans have expected, this riding on the recent run of success by national teams in international competition this month.
The Reggae Girlz made a first-ever Jamaican qualification to a World Cup round of 16 run and the Sunshine Girls won their first Netball World Cup medal in over a decade over the past weeks. And as the nation’s track and field athletes look to make their mark here in Budapest, Wilson has no doubts that they will keep the momentum going.
“There is never any pressure. We have always been consistent. Track and field is the most successful sport. We have maintained consistency over the years and we are just going to continue what we have been doing,” Wilson told The Gleaner.
The Jamaicans had a five-day preparation camp in the Hungarian capital and will be involved right at the start in the morning session, with national shot put champion and national record holder Rajindra Campbell competing in the men’s shot put qualification at 3:30 a.m. (Jamaica time). The session will include the mixed 4x400m relay heats as well as the women’s long jump qualification featuring Tissana Hickling and Ackelia Smith at 5:25 a.m.
For Wilson, medals in the non-traditional areas as well as in the relays are targets that he hopes will be met.
“I would want to think that in the non-traditional areas, the jumps, we should be seeing some medals from the jumps. We want to have a seamless process in terms of relay medals this year. We have a plan, we hope that plan will produce the success that all Jamaicans want, which is ultimately to be the gold medal winners.
Smith, in her second World Championships, enters Budapest as the world leader with 7.08m, with Hicking ranked 18th in the world.
National 1500m champion Adelle Tracey will begin her campaign in the women’s event at 6:15 a.m.
After claiming her first national title in the Jamaican colours, Tracey is excited about seeing how far she has progressed.
“It’s always challenging, this is the World Championships, so you come here to compete against the best. We have made some good progress. I have had some good sessions leading up to the championships. I am healthy, I am looking forward to seeing where that leads and getting out there,” Tracey admitted.
The afternoon session will see Traves Smikle, Roja Stona and 2019 World Championship silver medallist Fedrick Dacres compete in the men’s discus, with the goal of having all three compete in the final, which would be a Jamaican first. With all three throwing 68 metres this season, Smikle says that goal is attainable.
“Everybody is trying to give a good account of themselves. The dream is for all three of us to be in the final and we are going to see if that can happen,” he said.
World under-20 triple jump champion Jaydon Hibbert will make his senior championship debut in the men’s qualifying at 12:35 p.m., with him entering as the world leader.
The battle for the title of world’s fastest man will commence at 12:43 p.m. with national champion Rohan Watson, Ryeim Forde and Obilque Seville in contention.
Renowned sprint coach Glen Mills believes that the opportunity is open for any athlete to take a medal.
“If we are going by the times that are being run, nobody has done anything super sensational. It is in the ball park of everybody but who knows what they’ll do at the championship? Everybody will bring in their best game, so we’ll see what will happen this weekend,” Mills said.