Wed | Oct 4, 2023

Handing it to Shericka and Fred

Published:Tuesday | July 19, 2022 | 12:15 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer
Fred Kerley
Fred Kerley
Shericka Jackson.
Shericka Jackson.

Track coaches must hate Shericka Jackson and Fred Kerley. After the success by this pair of reluctant 400-metre runners over the 100 metres at the World Athletics Championships, coaches are going to have a tough time convincing pain-weary youngsters to commit to the one-lap run when training for the Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships starts in September.

With one mind, Kerley and Jackson walked away from 400 metres bronze medals at the 2019 World Championships into the short sprints, and now, they are poster children for moving down in distance.

After his win at the World Championships in Eugene, Kerley inherits the traditional title of ‘fastest man alive’. The soft spoken Texas went to Eugene with the Olympic silver medal from 2021 and the fastest times of 2022 at 9.76 and 9.77 seconds, respectively, and in the cool evening air in the Oregon city, he arrived at the finish just in time to lean past his teammate Marvin Bracy, 9.86 to 9.88 seconds.

Those who suffered through 400m workouts this season will be getting their Kerley-Jackson excuses ready for September. After all, if 2015 and 2019 World 400m bronze medallist Jackson can migrate to the 100m with such success, it’s a tempting option. Jackson lost to now five-time 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, but got the silver with a personal best of 10.73.

Believe or not, this 49.47 seconds 400m ace is faster at the 100m than legendary Merlene Ottey, who set the national record at 10.74 seconds in 1996.

I know at least one high school coach who is already getting appeals from his 400m runners for him to move them to the 100 and 200 metres.

Not all of them will be able to run the 100m in 9.76 like Kerley or 10.73 like Jackson but the migration may produce big runners in the 200m. Jackson has already made this theory look reasonable. At the Jamaican Nationals, she sealed a sprint double with a tremendous run in the 200m. Off the turn in front, she seemed to draw on her reserves of 400m power and drove to the finish in 21.55 seconds, the third-fastest time in history.

She is a big favourite in the 200m.

Kerley has run the 200m in 19.76 seconds since his departure from the 400m, where his career best is 43.64 seconds, so watch him keenly in the Eugene 200m.

So here’s the big question. If 10.73 plus 49.47 equals 21.55 for Jackson. What will Kerley get when he mixes 9.76 with 43.64?