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It's not all gloom in London

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The relays remain as realistic medal prospects, but as we enter the final two days of the IAAF World Championships there is no escaping the reality that Jamaica's athletes in London have performed below expectations.

As is already well established, most Jamaicans had pencilled in gold medals for the incomparable Mr Usain Bolt in his last competitive 100m and for sprint queen Miss Elaine Thompson over the same distance.

As it turned out, while Mr Bolt was good enough to take a bronze medal despite being way below the required level of preparedness, Miss Thompson, a double gold medallist at the Rio Olympics last year, could only manage fifth in London.

Also, there have been several disappointing performances elsewhere, not least yesterday when women's sprint hurdles defending champion Miss Danielle Williams was eliminated in the semi-final.

It's been cold and damp for much of the time in London, which would have contributed to below par performances. We suspect that the inevitable debate as to what went wrong will bring additional insights.

Nonetheless, Jamaicans must not lose sight of the successes. The technically superb performance by 23-year-old Olympic champion Mr Omar McLeod in winning the 110m hurdles brought smiles. Such is his natural speed that his stated ambitions of also taking on the 100m and 200m flat sprint events should not be dismissed as loose talk.

“Why settle? I want to be historic,” Mr McLeod has been quoted as saying. Regardless of how that goes, he will be forever celebrated for taking Jamaica's sprint hurdling to another level.

The unrelenting surge of Miss Ristananna Tracey to the 400m hurdles bronze medal and a personal best 53.74 will live in the memory.

We note Miss Tracey's comment that, “I'm only looking forward from this”. That attitude is in the magnificent tradition of 400m hurdles heroines Ms Deon Hemmings and Ms Melaine Walker.

It hasn't only been about medals. We have seen wonderful performances by athletes in uncharted or largely uncharted waters.

Let's consider Ms Danniel Thomas-Dodd, the first Jamaican to make a shot put final, who placed fourth after coming within a whisker of taking a bronze medal. We can only agree with her assessment that “I cannot ask for anything more”.

We know that, like Miss Tracey, she will be looking forward after this.

We dare not forget Mr Kemoy Campbell, who became the first Jamaican to qualify for the final of the men's 5,000-metre event at the World Championships.

Nor should we forget Ms Aisha Praught-Leer who made it to the final of the women's 3,000m steeplechase — only the third Jamaican to do so.

“I did what I could,” she said on television. That's all any of us should have a right to ask of any of our athletes.