Jamaica add 3 medals to take tally to best-ever haul of 12

BY PAUL A REID
Observer writer
reidp@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, July 16, 2018

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TAMPERE, Finland — Jamaica added three more medals on yesterday's final day of the IAAF World Under-20 Championships at Tampere Stadium to reach best-ever haul of 12 overall, including a record four gold medals to finish second on the medals table on another sun-drenched day in the south of Finland.

Kai Chang won a surprise gold in the men's discus throw with a personal best 62.36m, joining his training partner Fedric Dacres as the only Jamaican men to win the title. Britney Anderson was beaten into second place in the 100m hurdles by the very scantest of margins that not even the high-tech cameras were able to separate, while the women's 4x400m relay team took bronze thanks to a sublime and gutsy third leg from Shiann Salmon.

High jumper Lamara Distin could only manage 1.75m and finished 12th in the final.

Jamaica's 12 medals were the most ever won at one staging, beating the previous best of 11 set in Kingston in 2002, and was the only English-speaking country to earn a medal. Jamaica finished second on the table with four gold medals, five silver and three bronze, behind leaders Kenya who won six gold, four silver and one bronze, and the United States, who won two gold medals today and ended in third with three gold, eight silver and seven bronze for 18 medals, the most by any team.

Head Coach Michael Dyke thought the team had “an excellent championships based on performances”, and singled out sprint double champion Briana Williams, Chang and long jumper Wayne Pinnock — who won the island's first medal on Wednesday, but said just about every athlete delivered.

“Coming in I thought we could win a minimum of nine medals and a maximum of 12, but based on what we saw here, it could easily have been 15 medals,” Dyke said, pointing to the disqualification of the men's 4x400m relays and the girls' 4x100m, both of whom he thought would have won medals as well.

Dyke said it was not easy keeping the team motivated through the six days of the competition, especially when there were disappointments. “I have to commend every single member of the coaching staff, the management staff, even the medical team — they all played a part in making sure the athletes were ready to go out and perform.”

Chang surprised everyone but himself, even his personal coach Julian Robinson who told the Jamaica Observer from London, where he was attending the IAAF World Cup in Athletics, he never thought the athlete would win gold.

“I never had a gold medal in the World Under-20 in mind,” Robinson said. “But as the season progressed and I saw how fast he was progressing, I thought he could qualify for the championships. Later when I saw how quickly he was assimilating the information and continued to develop I started to think maybe he could get to the top eight. And finally when he threw over 57.00m with the senior weight, I thought possibly he had a chance at a medal. Not gold, just a medal,” Robinson said.

Chang, who described himself as “excited to be the world champion”, admitted that despite occasionally thinking he could win the gold medal, he was a bit nervous at the start of the final. “I was a bit anxious…the competition was tough and the other guys were all world-class athletes.”

He came into the competition with a best of 61.79m and took the lead in the second round, after the discus slipped from his grip in the first round and he got a mark of 56.96m, which left him in seventh place.

He then threw 58.26m in the third round and, despite fouling all three of his second -round efforts, was able to hold off Yauheni Bahutski of Belarus with 61.75m (silver medal) and Chile's Claudio Romero, who threw a season's best 60.81m for the bronze.

After being left in the blocks at the start, Anderson, the World Under-18 champion last year, stormed back to run a personal best 13.01 seconds (-0.1m/s), the same time given to American Tia Jones, with another American Cortney Jones in third with 13.19 seconds.

The official results showed Tia and Anderson tied on the first tiebreaker, milli-seconds at .002, and while an appeal was immediately lodged by the Jamaican officials, the result stood.

It took several minutes for the officials to display the results, keeping the athletes and the entire stadium waiting. Anderson said later. “My start isn't the best but I just went out there to do my best and that was good enough, and I ran the same time as the winner and I am really happy for that.”

She admitted that there was some anxiety leading into the championships. “I was not near where I was supposed to be and so when I got here there was some concerns, but as the rounds went by I worked it out.”

There was one change to the women's mile relay team that ran in the semi-finals with Shiann Salmon replacing Chrisanni May, and it paid off big as she produced a brilliant effort when the team clocked a season's best 3:31.90 minutes to take the bronze.

Janielle Josephs led off and handed over the baton in fourth place to 400m finalist Stacey-Ann Williams, who closed the gap halfway through the lap but then faded at the end, leaving Salmon with a big gap.

Salmon then chased and caught the leaders and handed over to anchor leg runner Calisha Taylor, after a herculean effort that had the stadium on it feet.

Taylor was unable to maintain the position and was eventually passed by the Australian runner, but stayed in front of the Canadian team for the medal.

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