Perfect time for sprint relay camps at home
Believe or not, Jamaica’s loss in the women’s 4x100 metres relay at the 2022 World Championships could have been worse. The champion United States team ran without 100 metres finalist Aleia Hobbs due to COVID-19 protocols, leaving Melissa...
Believe or not, Jamaica’s loss in the women’s 4x100 metres relay at the 2022 World Championships could have been worse. The champion United States team ran without 100 metres finalist Aleia Hobbs due to COVID-19 protocols, leaving Melissa Jefferson, newcomer Abby Steiner, Jenni Prandini and Twanisha Terry to clock 41.14 seconds, 0.04 ahead of Jamaica. It stung because with Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, Shericka Jackson and Elaine Thompson Herah one-two-three respectively in the 100m and Jackson and Fraser Pryce one-two in the 200m, Jamaica were the prohibitive favourites.
It isn’t all doom and gloom. In fact, a stroke of luck could turn the tide. With Briana Williams now training in Jamaica, all of the women who ran in the 2021 Olympic Games final and the 2022 World Championships final are now based here. Other countries do pre-Championships relay camps to build team chemistry, to sort out the running order and to rehearse baton passing. Jamaica typically squeezes in a little bit of practice around the individual sprints at the big meets but now that so many of our fastest women are here, we can narrow the preparation gap.
All of the victorious 2021 Olympic team - Williams, Thompson Herah, Fraser-Pryce and Jackson live and train in Jamaica, and Kemba Nelson, who anchored in the 2022 heats and started in the final, is here too. The same goes for Remona Burchell, who ran in the heats in both 2021 and 2022, and four-time Olympic/World relay medallist Natasha Morrison, whose super second leg zoomed Jamaica to victory in the 2015 World Championships.
When Jamaica won the 2019 World 4x100m gold, the team was Natalliah Whyte, Fraser Pryce, 100m finalist Jonielle Smith and Jackson. Smith, the former Wolmer’s Girls and Auburn University standout, now trains here with the MVP Track Club.
If local reinforcements are needed, it might soon make sense to draw on World Under 20 100m champion Tina Clayton.
Local training camps wouldn’t rule out those based overseas. It’s simple. The sprinters literally pick themselves off their performances at the National Championships. They would join in whenever they were available and when warm-up races were scheduled, here or abroad.
However, with so many prospective members of the 2023 sprint relay pool training at home, we have an opportunity to maximise our potential. Perhaps the world record, 40.82 seconds at the 2012 Olympics by Tianna Bartoletta, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight and Carmelita, might become a realistic target. World Athletics, the global governing body of the sport, pays a bonus for world records. For all I know, local sponsors might come on board to match that, when and if Jamaica breaks that fine mark by the USA.
The men would certainly benefit from local sprint relay camps too. The top three from the 2022 Nationals - Yohan Blake, Oblique Seville and Ackeem Blake train here. So does 2021 Olympic 200m finalist Rasheed Dwyer and Conroy Jones who ran 10 seconds flat at the Nationals.
With so many of our best sprinters training at home, Jamaica could reach its full potential in the women’s 4x100m. It’s a goal that should become a reality.
- Hubert Lawrence has made notes at trackside since 1980.