Wed | Oct 4, 2023

NACAC team rose to the occasion, says May

Published:Tuesday | August 23, 2022 | 12:09 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer
Dennis May
Dennis May
Christopher Taylor
Christopher Taylor
Shericka Jackson.
Shericka Jackson.

With six gold, nine silver and nine bronze, Jamaica won its largest haul of medals at last weekend’s North American Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Open Championships in Freeport, Bahamas. Team leader Dennis May said his 37-member team of athletes rose to the occasion to finish second overall and to exceed the previous medal high of 22 by two.

That medal haul outmatched the 42-member 2018 team and featured victories by Shericka Jackson, Traves Smikle, Shiann Salmon, Ackeem Blake, Christopher Taylor and Andrew Hudson.

“It really was an awesome performance overall from the team,” May said on Sunday. “We surpassed the last record, which was 22 medals. In fact, if you look at the whole thing, we were a smaller team but sometimes compactness means you have a bit more control. At the same time, I think the athletes rose to the occasion,” May recounted.

Based on what he saw in Freeport, May reckons Jamaica will do well in 2023 when the World Athletics Championships will be held in Budapest, Hungary, and in 2024, when the Summer Olympics will return to Paris, France.

“Some people felt it was a weakened team,” May reflected, “and it probably was, but this weakened team certainly surpassed the last performances and, for that, I am really excited for the next year and the Olympics the year after.”

Jackson, winner of the 200m in 2018, set a meet record, 10.83 seconds, to win the 100m, with teammate Natasha Morrison third. Smikle and Fedrick Dacres went one-two in the discus, as did Salmon and two-time Commonwealth Games champion Janieve Russell in the 400-metres hurdles.

Blake and Hudson continued the revival of Jamaica’s fortunes in the men’s sprints, winning the 100 and 200 metres, respectively. Blake broke Tyquendo Tracey’s meet record of 10.02 seconds with his fourth sub-10 clocking of the season, 9.98. Hudson unveiled a smashing personal best of 19.87 seconds. His time made him the ninth-fastest Jamaican in history, displacing 2004 Olympic finalist Asafa Powell to number 10.

Hudson was, however, hampered by a cramp in the 4x100 metres relay, where Jamaica was third.

“I knew he was in good shape because of what happened at Trials (where Hudson clocked 20.11) but he blew our minds and then he ran on the backstretch in the 4x100m not long after but he got a cramp in his legs, but I can imagine after such a hard run. I’m expecting great things from him. He has the temperament, a very quiet, introspective young man. Something of an introvert, I think, but very intelligent and a deep thinker. I’m expecting great things from him,” May predicted.

Olympic and World Championship finalist Taylor legged a personal best 44.63 seconds to lead teammate Nathon Allen home in the 400 metres.

There were also notable perfor-mances from Bahamian heroine Shaunae Miller-Uibo who strolled the 400m in 49.40 seconds, and two-time Commonwealth 400 hurdles champion Kyron McMaster of the British Virgin Islands, who defended his NACAC title in 47.34 seconds.