Sat | Sep 23, 2023

FIVE big questions for Jamaica’s track and field in 2023

Published:Tuesday | January 3, 2023 | 1:08 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer
Elaine Thompson Herah
Elaine Thompson Herah
 Tajay Gayle
Tajay Gayle
Oblique Seville
Oblique Seville
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1. Will Elaine Thompson Herah come back to her best? Sensational in 2021, Elaine Thompson Herah wasn’t herself on the track last season. “It is new to me,” she said of the training programme designed by her husband Deron. “It’s almost like my...

1. Will Elaine Thompson Herah come back to her best?

Sensational in 2021, Elaine Thompson Herah wasn’t herself on the track last season. “It is new to me,” she said of the training programme designed by her husband Deron. “It’s almost like my husband teaching me to drive. We are not going to agree on certain things. But I am working on that,” she said at a Puma press conference in July.

She scored a majestic sprint double at the 2021 Olympics, with times of 10.61 seconds over 100 metres and 21.53 for the 200m. At last year’s World Championships in Eugene, she managed 10.81 for third in the 100m final and 21.97 in the 200m semis, before placing seventh in the final.

By comparison, her best 100m times of 2021 and 2022, respectively, were 10.54, the second-quickest of all time, and 10.79.

If they build on the experience gleaned in 2022, the second year of this coach-athlete partnership could bear fruit.

2. Will the male sprinters continue to rise?

Young sprinters Oblique Seville and Ackeem Blake delighted fans by battering the 10-second barrier, and Seville was a little misstep away from a medal in Eugene, with Blake taking gold at the NACAC Open Championships.

In addition, Bouwahjgie Nkrumie peaked perfectly to win the silver at the World Under-20 Championship in the speed-friendly climes of Cali, Colombia, with a Jamaican under-20 record of 10.03 seconds. With 32-year-old national champion Yohan Blake still in the fray, and Carifta 100m champion DeAndre Daley, Boys and Girls’ Championships Class One double winner Brian Levell, two-time National Junior 100m king Sandrey Davison and Jeevan Newby all promising, the return of our male sprinters might not be far away.

3. Will Tajay Gayle be fit?

Injuries have struck down 2019 World jump champion Tajay Gayle for two years. If he recovers from the knee troubles that have assailed him since his upset win at the Doha World Championships, you can mark him down for a medal in Budapest, host of the World Championships this August.

4. Will the field events catch up?

We all glowed with pride when World Athletics announced that Jamaica had the most successful female track team in Eugene. However, when the corresponding field event list appeared, Jamaica was nowhere to be found.

That could change. Led by runner-up Shanieka Ricketts, Jamaica placed three women in the triple jump final and two in the women’s high jump final. Our field events men are on the move, too, with two in the discus final and gold for Traves Smikle at NACAC.

Better yet, Jaydon Hibbert and Brandon Pottinger won gold medals at the World Under-20 Championships, with Kobe Lawrence notching a silver in the shot put.

5. How many medals in Budapest?

If Thompson Herah is near her best and Gayle is fit and if throwers Fedrick Dacres and Danielle Thomas-Dodd return to their 2019 form, Jamaica could reach its 2009 benchmark of 13 medals.

Hubert Lawrence has made notes at trackside since 1980.