TORONTO, Canada – Jamaica enjoyed their best day so far of the NACAC Senior Track and Field Championships on Saturday (11) inside the Varsity Stadium claiming four gold medals.
Hansle Parchment won Jamaica’s first gold medal at the championships when, after getting a decent start by his standards, he powered through the last four flights of hurdles to take gold in 13.28 seconds (0.4 m/s) just 0.05 shy of the championship record.
Barbadian Brathwaite (13.52) was edged out of the silver medal by American Aleec Harris (13.49).
“I’m happy,” said Parchment. “I was thinking about my start while they were announcing our names and I told myself that I have to push hard from the blocks to make sure they don’t leave me and force me to play catch up. I got the start and realised no one was beside me towards the end.”
2015 World Champion Danielle Williams had to settle for the runner-up spot behind world record holder Kendra Harrison in the women’s 100m hurdles. Harrison shaved 0.11 off her championship record set in the semi-finals to win in 12.55 seconds (0.9 m/s) while Williams stopped the clock at 12.68 seconds.
“My first eight hurdles were pretty good,” said Williams. “However, I made mistakes over the last two hurdles as I shortened my strides and got too close which killed my momentum.”
Jamaica’s gold rush was on full display in the 400m finals.
In the women’s contest, Stephenie-Ann McPherson opened up the burners and turned the contest in a one-horse race as she beat the field by almost a second to take gold in 51.15 seconds.
Her teammate Christine Day was back in fifth in 53.04 seconds.
McPherson’s countryman Demish Gaye prevailed in the men’s 400m but with a contrasting finish.
Grenada’s Bralon Taplin got off to a swift start almost as if trying to outrun his shadow covering the entire field by the halfway mark. He led for 350 metres but paid the ultimate price when his gamble of going out too fast took its toll and fatigue set in, and he faded quicker than he started and had to embrace eighth place.
All this time Gaye was running an intelligent race not extending himself until the right moment which came in the final 30 metres. Gaye went on to claim his first NACAC gold medal in 45.47 ahead of Costa Rica’s fast-finishing Nery Brenes Cardenas 45.67 and Jamaica’s Fitzroy Dunkley in 45.76.
The pressure cooker atmosphere surrounding the men’s 100m may have led to the controversial false start by Jason Rogers of St. Kitts & Nevis. Rogers wasn’t convinced and after being shown three red cards was allowed to run.
Jamaica’s domestic champion Tyquendo Tracey seized the golden moment with a workmanlike performance which saw him setting a championships record 10.03 seconds (0.4 m/s).
“I was very confident coming into the finals,” Tracey reasoned.
“I have some good people around me who tell me what I want to hear to get me ready. Everything didn’t go according to plan throughout the race, but I did enough to win.”
The women’s equivalent was the marquee event of the championships, and it served up its own surprise. American Jenna Prandini, who broke the championships record in the semi-finals when she ran 11.01, duly obliged by adding gold in a new championships record 10.96 seconds (0.9 m/s).
Jonielle Smith, the recently minted CAC champion, was the best of the rest in a bang-up finish snatching silver while equalling her personal best (11.07) ahead of Canada’s Crystal Emmanuel in a lifetime best of 11.11 seconds.
Two-time Olympic champion (2008 and 2012) Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce was further back in fifth clocking 11.18 seconds. “I really don’t know how to assess this race, but I definitely have to go back and look at it,” said Fraser-Pryce. “It didn’t happen the way I wanted it to but at the end of the day my season has gone well so far, I’m healthy, and I can’t complain because everything is a plus and to be where I am now is a blessing.”
American Ajee Wilson ran a perfectly timed race from start to finish outlasting a determined Natoya Goule of Jamaica.
At the bell lap both women quickly separated themselves from the rest of the field, and though Goule looked threatening at times, she couldn’t find that extra kick to upstage Wilson who went on to win in a championships record of 1:57.52 with Goule 0.43 seconds adrift in second.
Elsewhere Grenada’s Anderson Peters broke the championship record in the men’s javelin with a 79.65m effort.
Jamaica’s Tissana Hickling claimed bronze in the women’s long jump after cutting the sand at 6.38m (0.5 m/s).
Bahamian Donald Thomas cleared the bar at 2.28m on his second attempt to win bronze in the men’s high jump on countback.