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2017 IAAF World Champs

The Sporting EDGE

With Paul Reid

Thursday, August 17, 2017

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To say the results of the IAAF World Championships that ended in London on Sunday was disappointing from a Jamaican perspective is to put it mildly.

From the first full day when Usain Bolt was third in the men's 100m final, to the last two days when the country earned just one medal — a bronze in the relays — and only qualified three of four teams to the finals, was a massive shock to many and a big wake-up call.

The pundits and experts predicted that the Jamaican team would realistically win up to 14 medals, including as many as five gold, but Omar McLeod's win in the men's 110m hurdles was the island's lone success to go with three bronze medals.

And to add salt to our wounds, if the results on the track and in the field were not bad enough, news broke on Sunday that MVP teammates Shericka Jackson and Stephenie-Ann McPherson had to be separated in a meeting of the women's 4x400m team, ostensibly over the choice of which uniform to wear.

In the end McPherson did not run, whether because of injury or just refusing to, and her replacement Anniesha McLaughlin-Whilby pulled up just after she started the second leg. The baton never got to Novlene Williams Mills to run her final lap in the Jamaican colours.

More than a few of us were happy the carnage was over on Sunday afternoon, as after being spoiled by double-digit medal hauls in the previous four editions, we were hoping the gravy train would have lasted a little while longer.

But despite the doom and the gloom, the cupboard is not bare, and I agree with Head Coach Maurice Wilson who, upon his return from London earlier this week, said this was a bump in the road.

Bolt has left the scene and we won't see another of his kind, but replacements are lining up and the Commonwealth Games in Australia next April could not have come at a better time to help bridge the gap.

This second-tier championships will give a number of those who were in London a chance to “wheel and come again”. The only slight setback with the Commonwealth Games is that it will be held in a time period that is traditionally at the end of the indoors and still early for the outdoor season.

The dates had been set for more than a year now, and so coaches and the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) would have had sufficient time to make the necessary adjustments.

Some will scoff at its importance, but the Commonwealth Games can serve a good purpose. It will help to restore the confidence of some athletes, while giving others a taste of senior championship competition, even if it is a level or three lower than the World Athletics Championships.

Based on what we saw in London, and earlier this year, the base has been expanded and no longer will we be heavily dependent on the sprints and relays to win all Jamaica's medals.

Both hurdle disciplines, the sprint and the intermediate for both male and female, will be well served, as well as the 400 metres for both genders.

In the so-called non-traditional events, such as the throws, the future is particularly bright with two men in the discus final, fourth place in the women's shot put and with male shot putter O'Dayne Richards expected to be back to his best. And with a cadre of world-class female discus throwers, it's only a matter of time before we start to medal on a regular basis.

After years of not being able to get past the first round, Kemoy Campbell finally made the finals of the 5,000m, the first ever by a Jamaican, and placed 10th. Hence he has a platform on which to build.

Plus, after sending two women to the first-ever finals of the 3,000m steeple chase in 2005, we have a genuine world-class talent in Aisha Praught-Leer. Her breakthrough will no doubt inspire others to clear their own hurdles.

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