‘I FEEL SUPERGOOD’
19-year-old Clarke takes ‘a 12’ with fourth-place World Championships debut finish
AS FAR as Roshawn Clarke is concerned, he has completed the checklist of a brilliant debut senior season after his first World Championships final.
Clarke finished fourth in the men’s 400-metre hurdles final, clocking 48.07 seconds.
Olympic champion and world record holder Karsten Warholm of Norway wrenched his world title back from Brazil’s Alison dos Santos with a 46.89 clocking. Kyron McMaster of the British Virgin Islands mined silver with 47.34, and the United States’ Rai Benjamin was third in 47.56.
In his first senior season, Clarke not only won the national title, but now holds the world under-20 record, the national record, and competed in his first World Championships final.
When asked how he would grade his campaign from one to 10, he said “a 12”, with a healthy laugh.
“I feel supergood. It was a very spicy event. I was in the mix, so I can’t complain. It was very good,” the teen said, beaming.
That ‘12’ is just about a matching grade for the former Camperdown High School athlete’s stellar junior career. His performances were especially outstanding over the past year in which he totally dominated the competition at the Carifta, North, Central America and Caribbean (NACAC), and World levels.
At the 2022 Carifta Games, Clarke won two gold medals, winning the boys’ under-20 400m hurdles and as a member of the champion 4x400m under -20 quartet.
He would reap that same gold medal double this year at Carifta, winning the 400m hurdles and being part of the golden 4x400m quartet. The feat earned him the 2023 Games’ Austin Sealy Award, which is awarded to the most outstanding performer.
Clarke also won a golden double at the 2022 NACAC junior championships, where he won his pet event, the 400m hurdles, and helped Jamaica’s mixed relay team to first in the 4x400m outing.
Later in 2022, he proved his global standard with a bronze-medal finish at the World Junior Championships in Cali, Colombia, with a 49.62-second clocking in the final.
Clarke, who is now tied to Swept Track Club, continued showing rapid improvement as he went on to claim Jamaica’s national senior title with a 47.85 clocking this year.
That time tied that of the United States’ Sean Burrell, also making Clarke a holder of the world junior record.
The Jamaican, however, made the world junior record his own when he clocked a remarkable personal best of 47.34 seconds to win his heat at the World Athletics Championships.
The time made him the 16th fastest man in the event.
So Jamaica’s national champion now had the eyes of the world also fixed on him going into the final despite having to face off against more accomplished senior-level athletes.
However, Clarke was fearless and showed his quality with a brave run, even though he encountered difficulty at the sixth hurdle that caused him to lose momentum.
“My stride wasn’t matching the hurdles, so I had to chop my stride,” Clarke explained.
He continued: “I didn’t want it to happen because that sixth hurdle would have set me up better into the home stretch and I would’ve challenged for a medal, but it happened, and I have to move forward,” he shared. “(But) I am happy with the result.”
Looking forward, Clarke anticipates contributing in an area where he has helped Jamaica to glittering performances in the past.
“Hopefully, the 4x4,” he related about getting a spot in the upcoming men’s relay, “and some races after the championships”.
McLeod content with finals placing
Jamaica’s Candice McLeod, who battled a series of injuries leading up the World Athletics Championships, expressed contentment after placing seventh in the women’s 400-metre final, clocking 51.08 seconds.
The Jamaican admitted that just being able to compete in another final lifted the pressure off her.
“Making the final is a big thing. As the days went, I realised I didn’t need to pressure myself. I am healthy, and I have a long season ahead. Whatever I don’t get now, I will get later,” said McLeod.
The Dominican Republic’s Marileidy Paulino took the world title with a national record, 48.72, while Poland’s Natalia Kacmarek was second in 49.57. Barbados’ Sada Williams completed back-to-back bronze medals with her 49.60 clocking.
Two-time World Championships silver medallist Shanieka Ricketts and Kimberly Williams needed only one attempt to secure their places in tomorrow’s women’s triple jump final. Ricketts had a season’s best effort of 14.67m to keep her pursuit of three consecutive World Championships medals intact. Williams leapt to 14.30, the automatic qualifying standard, to make it to her eighth major global championship final. Ackelia Smith did not make the final.
World Championships debutant Ackera Nugent would make it to her first 100m hurdles final, clocking 12.60 to finish second in her semi-final. Former World champion Danielle Williams’ season’s best time of 12.50 was enough to finish as a non-automatic qualifier. But it also knocked out national champion Megan Tapper, whose time of 12.55 was not enough to advance.
Meanwhile, Jamaica endured a good morning session as half-lap specialists, long jump, and middle-distance competitors enjoyed mostly good performances to advance.
World 200m champion Shericka Jackson began the defence of her title with a comfortable 22.51-second clocking to take Heat Three. Natalliah Whyte got second place in Heat Four in 22.44, behind Julien Alfred, who won in 22.31. Kevona Davis, in her World Championships debut, also progressed to the final, clocking 22.49 to finish second behind world leader Gabby Thomas, who won in 22.26.
However, Ashanti Moore’s time of 23.12, to finish fifth in Heat One, wasn’t quick enough to secure one of the six non-automatic qualifying spots.
Two-time national champion Andrew Hudson progressed in his World Championships debut in Jamaican colours, clocking 20.25 to finish second behind defending champion Noah Lyles of the United States.
Rasheed Dwyer, in Heat Five, secured the final automatic qualifying spot with 20.40 to finish third in his heat.
Adelle Tracey and Natoya Goule-Toppin secured spots in the semi-final of the women’s 800m, both finishing second in their respective heats. Tracey produced a season’s best 1:59.82, finishing behind Uganda’s Halimah Nakaayi, 1:59.68. Goule-Toppin was comfortable in her heat, clocking 1:59.64 behind defending champion Athing Mu, of the US, who won in 1:59.59.
Jamaica will have three men in the long jump final for the first time at the World Championships. They were led by national champion Wayne Pinnock, who needed one jump to qualify for the final and set a world-leading 8.54 metres. His University of Arkansas teammate, Carey McLeod, also qualified automatically with one jump. Carey leapt 8.19m to get past the 8.15m automatic qualifying mark.
Former world champion Tajay Gayle made his final attempt count with an effort of 8.12m to secure his spot in his second final in four years. While the mark wasn’t enough for automatic qualification, the former world champion did manage an eighth-place finish.