Monday blues for Jamaica at Olympics

Foster-Hylton’s unfortunate sequence of events during yesterday’s 100m hurdles heat.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

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LONDON, England — Jamaica failed to add to the four medals won so far, as Leford Green fought gallantly but placed seventh in the final of the men's 400m hurdles in his first Olympic Games, as the track and field competition continued at Olympic Stadium in Stratfod, London yesterday.

The promised cold British summer finally showed up with temperate plummeting to below 50 degrees Fahrenheit in the afternoon session with grey skies and dark clouds for most of the day adding to the least productive day yet for Jamaican athletes here.

It was a day mixed with anguish and triumph, as two-time Olympic sprint hurdle finalist Brigitte Foster-Hylton hit a hurdle in her first-round race and failed to advance to the semi-finals, while in the women's 400m hurdles semi-finals, Kaliese Spencer qualified for her first Olympic final, but that joy soon turned to despair as her MVP training partner and defending champion Melaine Walker bowed out with a tepid display.

It was a mind-boggling display from Walker and an even more confusing post-race interview that at times swung from the ridiculous to the sublime, as she described herself as "crazy", then said she could go break the world record next race.

Minutes after her race, Usain Bolt, who the night before ran 9.63 seconds, the second fastest time ever in history as he and Yohan Blake, who took silver, set off parties from London to Kingston to New York and all points in-between.

In stark contrast to Walker, Spencer ran a well-controlled race to finish second in her semi-final in 54.20 seconds and advance to Wednesday's final, while Nickesha Wilson ran with a sore hamstring to finish sixth in her heat in 55.77 seconds and failed to advance.

A glowing Spencer said while she was happy to have advanced to the final, she did not feel any additional pressure on her to bring home a medal.

Green, who was the first Jamaican man in an Olympic final in eight years since Danny McFarlane took silver behind Felix Sanchez, yesterday's surprised winner, finished in seventh place with 49.12 seconds, saying he had high hopes for the future.

"I was a semi-finalist last year (in the World Championships in Daegu) and now I am a finalist, so next year I want to be a medallist," he told reporters here.

It was a gloomy morning for Jamaica with only one of the four athletes, who took part, advancing past the first round.

Two-time Olympic Games sprint hurdles finalist and 2009 World Championships gold medallist Brigitte Foster-Hylton's hitting the fifth hurdle, losing her balance and finishing in seventh place, set the tone as both male discus throwers Jason Morgan and Traves Smikle also bowed out after just three throws.

The only positive for the morning session was 2008 World Junior Championships silver medallist Shermaine Williams advancing to today's semi-finals after running 13.07 seconds for fourth in her heat and will contest the first semi-final today.

It was an anguished Foster-Hylton, who left the track in tears after twice throwing herself down to the track as she vented her frustrations and not even American competitor Lolo Jones, who went over to console her, helped.

Foster-Hylton, who came into the Games ranked only behind world champion Sally Pearson with a 12.51-second clocking from the JN/JAAA World Challenge in May, got off to a brilliant start but her trail leg clipped the fifth hurdle throwing her off and despite a gallant effort to regain her balance, trailed in way behind the leaders, ending her fourth Olympic Games.






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