By Noel ‘Bravo’ Francis, Special to TrackAlerts.Com
Many persons believe that there will be a changing of the guard when the smoke clears at the end of the women’s 100m finals at the 2015 JAAA National Senior Championship. It is quite possible that three athletes from the same camp could feature prominently in this event. Natasha Morrison, Christania Williams and rising star Elaine Thompson could launch their international careers in emphatic fashion.
Elaine Thompson is in the form of her life being the only Jamaican to run below 11 seconds on more than one occasion this year. Thompson has done it three times with a lifetime best of 10.84 seconds at the iconic Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon being her most impressive performance. She comes into the JAAA National Senior Championship as the firm favourite to capture the 100m crown despite the presence of Veronica Campbell-Brown one of the country’s most decorated sprinters.
Interestingly, both Campbell-Brown who is the 2014 Diamond Race winner in the 100m and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce the defending double sprint champion are eligible for automatic qualification to the IAAF World Championship. However, with only one spot allotted to any country and the established precedence set in 2013 with a similar scenario involving 2011 World Champion at 200m Usain Bolt and 2012 Diamond Race winner Nickel Ashmeade, it seems World Champion Fraser-Pryce will get the JAAA’s vote.
Campbell-Brown who won the national title last year with a then unknown Elaine Thompson placing fifth will have a sterner test in 2015. It should be a fantastic showdown between Campbell-Brown and Thompson, two sprinters with a lot to prove.
Christania Williams is one of the most promising sprinters competing in Jamaica. The UTECH athlete possesses an explosive start and if she stays injury free could cause anxious moments for her rivals. At the UTECH Track & Field Classic Meet, Williams posted a then personal best of 11.18 (1.0 m/s) for third in a highly competitive race. The 20-year-old set a new personal best 11.11 seconds (+1.7 m/s) on her way to victory at the 3rd JAAA All Comers Meet on May 30, 2015.
Natasha Morrison (11.17) finished runner-up at the UTECH Track & Field Classic valiantly chasing Elaine Thompson who ran a then world leading time of 10.92 seconds. Morrison whose personal best is 11.06 (+1.1 m/s) has been a solid performer this season. Her best effort came on May 30, 2015 at the 3rd JAAA All Comers Meet where she registered 11.13 (+1.7 m/s). The 22-year-old MVP athlete is favoured to be among the top four on Friday night. Another MVP athlete, Carrie Russell, has been missing in action this season and it is highly unlikely that she will be a factor if she shows up.
Shillonie Calvert showed great promise early in career and seemed the next big thing out of Jamaica. However, she has not progressed as many thought she would and her performances for the last four years have been like hills and valleys. The Racers Track Club athlete who has finished third at the last two National Championships will be hard-pressed to maintain that position by some fresh and hungry contenders who have already defeated her this season. Calvert, who was a semi-finalist at the Moscow World Championship in 2013, has so far registered a season best 11.23 (+0.2 m/s). Observers believe Calvert will need to produce something close to her personal best (11.05) to be among the top three this year.
Sherone Simpson is an all or nothing athlete, at her best, she looks supreme and when not in form, as is the case this season, she looks disappointing. According to her form chart, she has not recorded a sub-11 time since 2008! She will be hoping for a much-improved showing at this year’s National Championship unlike last year when she failed to make the final on her comeback from suspension. Sherone’s fastest time this season is 11.42 seconds in the 100m.
Samantha Henry-Robinson is a very compact sprinter more renowned for her team player roles on a few of Jamaica’s sprint relay teams. She has been a 100m finalist at the last three National Championships dating back to 2012. Henry-Robinson who has never placed higher than 6th position will be aiming for a personal best to secure at least a top four spot. She has a lifetime best of 11.00 (+1.5 m/s) and showed some encouraging form at the recent Adidas Grand Prix in New York with a season best 11.08 (+0.4 m/s) for second. Henry-Robinson must feel confident of making her first major championship team in an individual event.
Simone Facey is another excellent relay runner who will be seeking a place amongst the big girls. The 30-year-old is a very experienced athlete who runs with a lot of determination. Facey has a season best of 11.15 (+0.2 m/s) done at the Florida Tom Jones Memorial Classic in April. Facey has loads of potential and is another athlete seeking to run sub-11 seconds this season, a feat she has not achieved since 2008. It is not too late.
Kerron Stewart, the 2013 National Champion and last year’s runner-up has not been having one of her better seasons. Many of her fans are worried that she has not posted a sub-11 seconds time since 2013. They are hoping that she will rediscover that zest and raw speed that brought her worldwide recognition in 2008 and 2009. Stewart will have her hands full at the National Championship and only a special effort will guarantee a spot on the team to Beijing and remove doubts that her glory days are in the past.
Remona Burchell looked promising in the early part of the season and many saw her as someone who could force her way into the top three at the JAAA trials. She ran 11.04 seconds in a negative headwind (-2.5 m/s) at the Florida Relays in Gainesville, which under normal conditions would equate to 10.84 seconds. However, as they say injury is part of the sport and unfortunately, Burchell had a setback at the worst time of her fledgling career. On the eve of the NCAA East Regional, Burchell had to withdraw from the championship, effectively ending her progress and participation to defend her title at the grand finals in Eugene, Oregon. The two-time NCAA 60m indoor and 2014 outdoor 100m champion is on the mend and hopefully she will recover in due course.
Jamaicans adore their female track stars and the thought of a number of veteran sprinters not making the team based on their form at this stage will make some of their fans upper lip tremble while biting their finger nails at the trials. Everyone is hoping for the best that the aging stalwarts will get it right when it counts one last time. However, if things go awry, are we ready to embrace the change?
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]