Sun | May 22, 2022

Wilson predicts extra special year

‘I think at the World Athletics Championships we are going to have our best-ever medal haul’

Published:Friday | January 21, 2022 | 12:13 AMRaymond Graham/Gleaner Writer
Thompson Herah
Thompson Herah
Wilson
Wilson
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Technical leader of Jamaica’s senior track and field programme Maurice Wilson says 2022 will be an extra special year in track and field for Jamaica. Wilson expects a number of top-level performances, especially from the country’s female athletes...

Technical leader of Jamaica’s senior track and field programme Maurice Wilson says 2022 will be an extra special year in track and field for Jamaica. Wilson expects a number of top-level performances, especially from the country’s female athletes.

“The year is going to be extra special, and I think at the World Athletics Championships, we are going to have our best-ever medal haul,” Wilson said. Jamaica, led by Usain Bolt, won 13 medals at the 2009 World Championships, the country’s best-ever haul at the global meet.

Despite the setbacks brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s senior track and field athletes produced dominant performances in 2021, and Jamaica walked away with nine medals - four gold , one silver, and four bronze at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The dominance did not stop in Tokyo. Double Olympic sprint champion Elaine Thompson Herah was also outstanding on the Diamond League circuit. At the Diamond League meet in Eugene, Oregon, in the United States, she clocked 10.54 seconds for the 100 metres to become the second-fastest woman in history over the distance, just 500th of a second outside the world record of 10.49 seconds set by American Florence Griffith Joyner in 1988. This year’s 18th World Athletics Championships will also be held in Eugene.

“The showing at Tokyo, where we got nine medals, was very special and could have been better if acclimatisation was earlier, but this was not so due to the pandemic situation,’’ Wilson said.”The performances of our women in the sprints, especially the 100 metres, where we swept the medals along with Thompson-Herah’s win in the 200 metres and Megan Tapper’s third-place finish in the 100m hurdles, was great for our females. Getting gold and bronze in the men’s 110 metre hurdles, through Hansle Parchment and Ronald Levy, was really truly outstanding.” Wilson, while lauding the female sprinters, said the island’s male athletes are going through a phase. “The men, especially the sprinters, are now going through a phase, and after high school, it does take some time for them to develop. The females, however, develop much faster, and their transition from high school to senior rank is much quicker. Our male athletes, after leaving high school, require guidance and must be managed properly by their agents, coaches, and parents. If they become contracted athletes, they must understand that this is work, and as such, is governed by specific rules. They must adhere to rules by being disciplined and punctual in attending training and any other rules associated in improving their performance,” Wilson, who is also principal of GC Foster College of Physical Education and Sport, said.

Thompson Herah has changed camps since her heroics of last year, but Wilson hopes she will continue to do well. “Stephen Francis (her former coach) has, over the years, proven his worth as one of the best sprint coaches on the world stage. However, Thompson Herah is an adult, and if she decides with her team to move on, we have to wish them the best. I don’t know who is her coach, but with her experience and talent, hopefully, they will be able to deliver the goods,” said Wilson, who added that he expects medals in throws and jumps along with the male 4x100m and 4x400m relays, which were not among the medals in Tokyo.