Rushell Clayton at the Oregon22 World Athletics Championships in Eugene, USA
Rushell Clayton at the Oregon22 World Athletics Championships in Eugene, USA

KINGSTON, Jamaica – In an evening of track that intertwined record-setting performances with gripping victories, the Jamaica Athletics Invitational Meet was a showcase of not just Caribbean talent, but also a statement by global athletes aiming for the season’s pinnacle at the Olympic Games.

At the forefront of the night’s proceedings was Rushell Clayton, who turned heads with a world-leading time of 53.72 seconds in the women’s 400m hurdles. The race, stacked with talent, saw Clayton narrowly defeat Anna Cockrell of the USA, who finished a close second in 53.76 seconds. Shian Salmon of Jamaica secured third with a respectable 54.57 seconds, while former Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad placed fifth, clocking 55.77 seconds.

In the men’s 200m, Briton Zharnel Hughes dazzled the crowd, clocking a European-leading 19.96 seconds, propelling him ahead of American Fred Kerley, 20.17, and French sprinter Pablo Mateo, 20.20. Notably, Christian Coleman, another American favorite, finished fifth in 20.46 seconds.

“I think it was a good race,” said Hughes. “To run sub-20 so early in the season is a bonus for me. I’ve never run this fast so early; last year, my 19-point came in July at the London Diamond League.”

Matthew Hudson-Smith of Britain also left a significant mark on the meet by setting another European lead with a time of 44.69 seconds in the men’s 400m, edging out Matthew Boling of the USA who completed the race in 44.98 seconds. Jamaica’s Antonio Watson was 4th in 45.61.

The women’s 200m was not short of excitement, with Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith clinching the race in 22.51 seconds, narrowly outpacing Jessika Gbai of Ivory Coast who clocked 22.53 seconds.

“My execution was not good,” Asher-Smith said with a wry smile. “When I crossed the line, I said: ‘I will be in trouble’. My start could have been much better, and I could have cut the bend a little better. The intensity was good, and my finish could have been better, but it was all right. Nevertheless, I am in a good place, and there’s plenty to work on.”   

Amusan and Williams Set Hurdles Ablaze with World-Leading Performances at Jamaica Athletics Invitational

Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan was in record-setting form, sprinting to a world lead of 12.40 seconds in the women’s 100m hurdles, ahead of Jamaica’s world champion Danielle Williams, 12.46, and American Christina Clemons, 12.54. Reflecting on her stellar performance, Amusan shared, “This is the healthiest I’ve been. It’s a pain-free season compared to other years,” said Amusan.

“I told myself: ‘I’m not getting a DQ today’. I’m not the best of starters, but looking at how I executed today, it could have been better, but I am thankful for the win.”

On the men’s side, the hurdles saw fierce competition with Daniel Roberts of the USA leading the pack in the 110m hurdles, recording a swift 13.17 seconds. Close on his heels were fellow American Eric Edwards and Jamaica’s Lafranz Campbell, who set a personal best with 13.37 seconds.

Ricketts and Hibbert Leap to World Leads at Jamaica Athletics Invitational

The field events were equally riveting. Shanieka Ricketts and Jayden Hibbert, both representing Jamaica, notched up world-leading marks in the triple jump, setting a high bar for their international competitors. Hibbert won with 17.57 and Ricketts with 14.50m.

Alexis Holmes of the USA triumphed in the women’s 400m dash, finishing in 50.31 seconds, while Raymond Richards dominated the men’s high jump, clearing a height of 2.24 cm.

The meet concluded with the 100m dashes, where Marie-Josée Ta Lou-Smith of Ivory Coast dashed to victory in 10.91 seconds, and Julien Forte of Jamaica blazed through the men’s race in 10.02 seconds, just edging out Ackeem Blake and Brandon Hickling of the USA. The best news for Jamaica was Krystal Sloley, in a display of her vast improvement, clocked a personal best of 11.09 to secure the runner-up position ahead of compatriot Kemba Nelson (11.12). 

“To open my season with 10.91 is great,” said Ta Lou-Smith. “I was thrilled to see the crowd, and hearing the applause when my name was called was incredible.”

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