HALF-WAY-TREE erupted in excitement yesterday as Jamaica grabbed two more medals, a gold and a silver, at the World Athletics Championships in Moscow, Russia.
The crowd, which was a tad thicker than it was earlier this week, cheered wildly as they watched — on big screen televisions mounted in the St Andrew capital — Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce win the women's 200-metre final and minutes later the men's quartet of Rusheen McDonald, Javere Bell, Edino Steele, and Javon Francis grabbing a silver medal in the mile relay.
Fraser-Pryce ran a blistering 22.17 seconds to finish ahead of the Ivory Coast's Murielle Ahoure and Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria, who each posted times of 22.32 seconds. Alysson Felix, who was favoured to win, pulled up with a hamstring injury mere metres into
"Yuh nuh si seh di girl (Fraser-Pryce) a star," said George Shaw, as he and others watched the race from outside the Half-Way-Tree Transport Centre.
"Yuh nuh si seh dem cyaan hol' her, no matter what dem try," added Shaw, who was wearing a Jamaican flag as
But it was Francis' gutsy anchor leg which caused much delight among the crowd. The Calabar schoolboy, after getting the baton in fifth position, ran a blistering leg and fended off a strong challenge by the Russian runner to finish in a season's best 2:59.88 seconds behind the United States, who ran a world-leading 2:58.71 seconds.
"Trust mi, di youth dem neva win [the gold], but the performance was one of sheer guts and determination; mi proud of them," said St Catherine resident Georgette Douglas who was on her way to school, but decided to stop and watch the race.
Colette Vassell was equally excited.
"The performances were absolutely supreme. I am so proud of the Jamaican athletes," she told the Jamaica Observer.
Similar sentiments were shared by Spencer Maitland, who was on his way to work but could not resist the urge to stop and watch the races.
"Dem mek us feel proud. They did well," he shared.
Meanwhile taxi, bus drivers and other motorists travelling through the town -- who put their vehicles in park to watch the races — tooted their horns in approval of team Jamaica's performance.