By Noel 'Bravo' Francis, Special to TrackAlerts.Com
WOMEN’S 100M Hurdles
Jamaican track fans will welcome 22 year-old American sprint hurdles sensation Jasmin Stowers with open arms. Her fast 12.40 seconds clocking at the Drake Relays raised many eyebrows as she defeated more illustrious competitors on the day. Some of the athletes left in her wake were 2008 Olympic champion and 2012 runner-up Dawn Harper-Nelson, 2013 World Champion Brianna Rollins, the charismatic Queen Harrison and Kristi Castlin. Stowers, the 2015 US indoor 60m hurdles champion, will be aiming to run much faster in warmer conditions in Kingston.
Stowers was scheduled to face her stiffest competition from Dawn Harper-Nelson, the 2013 Jamaica Invitational champion. However, Harper-Nelson withdrew at the last minute. Her main challenge will now come from Jamaica’s sporting version of the Williams’ sisters, Shermaine and Danielle. Shermaine, the older sister, was a semi-finalist at the last World Championship in Moscow and the London Olympics. Danielle is a sprinter/hurdler with tremendous potential who was also a semi-finalist at the Moscow World Championship. For either sister to have any chance of success on Saturday and later in Beijing in August, they must improve upon their existing personal best times of 12.78 (Shermaine) and 12.69 (Danielle). This particular race will provide them with the necessary warm up challenge that could go a far way in fine tuning their preparations.
The good news is that both Williams’ sisters achieved their personal best times inside the National Stadium a few years ago, the same venue for the Jamaica International Invitational meet. Let us hope that come Saturday night, the stadium will remain their favourite hunting ground. The meeting record for this event is 12.50 seconds and the race can be seen at 8:27 p.m.
MEN’S 110M Hurdles
Many observers feel if the conditions are great, the meet record (13.19) in this event will be history. America’s newest men’s sprint hurdles sensation is Aleec Harris. The 23 year-old Harris who admits that track & field saved his life has been in spanking form this season defeating most of the world’s top hurdlers. He captured the US indoor 60m title in Boston and opened up outdoors with a close win (13.23) at the 2015 Florida Relays, followed by successes at the Mt. SAC Relays replicating the same victory time (13.23) and climaxing with a great morale boosting victory at the 2015 Drake Relays.
At the Drake Relays, he defeated a world-class field which included defending World Champion, David Oliver, Olympic champion, Aries Merritt, Olympic bronze medallist, Hansle Parchment, Commonwealth champion, Andrew Riley and World Championship silver medallist, Ryan Wilson. His winning time that day of 13.16 seconds sits atop the world leading list. He warmed up for this IAAF World Challenge meet with a satisfying win in Guadeloupe in 13.18 seconds over World Junior Champion Wilhem Belocian. Harris is undefeated this season and will be hoping to add another tick to his winnings checklist in the Jamaican capital.
The defending champion in this event and Jamaica’s national record holder, Hansle Parchment (12.94), will come up against Aleec Harris once again in a highly anticipated rematch. Parchment might not have been at his best on that day at the Drake Relays, and would like to set the record straight and show Harris that he is the sheriff of Kingston. He along with his compatriot and deputy Andrew Riley might have to combine like a tag team to take down the high-flying Harris on home turf.
Parchment, the London Olympics bronze medallist, represents Jamaica’s greatest hope in this 10-barrier event. He seemed destined to take the world by storm when a heart wrenching injury cut short his title aspirations at the Moscow World Championship. He returned in 2014 and started well joining an elite group of sprint hurdlers in July of that year to have gone below 13 seconds. Sadly, shortly after that majestic performance another injury stalled Parchment's progress ending his season.
His build up this season has been cautious and a bit below the radar with a fifth place finish (13.40) at the Drake Relays being his only noteworthy race in the event. However, the confident Parchment will relish the challenge of competing against the best sprint hurdler in the world at present to get back to his best. Andrew Riley is the Commonwealth champion who has so far registered a season best 13.32 seconds for third place in that super race in Des Moines, Iowa. It will be a very exciting race if the Jamaicans can turn the tables and arrest the speedy Harris. This must see showdown gets underway at 8:37 p.m.
About the Author:
Noel ‘Bravo’ Francis is a very exciting and creative freelance sports writer specializing in the fields of athletics and cricket. His colourful down to earth yet professional personality makes him a favourite amongst athletes and fans. Readers are often exposed to his detailed knowledge and passion which usually increase their interest in the athletes, events and the sport overall. He has a first degree in Banking & Finance and works in the financial industry. Contact Noel at [email protected]