Go, Danielle!

Clear those hurdles on and off the track

BY KEMAR BOGLE

Monday, July 22, 2019

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At the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) trials in June there was a mishap in the 100-m hurdles final. Danielle Williams was disqualified for a false start and, despite her prolonged protest, the disqualification stood.

The race eventually got underway, or so we thought, one athlete actually crossed the finish line, whilst another didn't leave the blocks; the starter tried to recall the athletes, but not all heard it. the race was eventually scrapped, as it was stated that many athletes had suffered injuries during what could only be termed as a faulty start.

With the race scrapped, which athletes will represent Jamaica in the event at the World Athletics Championship in Doha, Qatar, come September? How will these athletes be chosen? Will the 2015 champion Danielle Williams now stand a chance to be on the team, given the race was scrapped? These questions require immediate answers.

The JAAA, in response, stated that the three athletes who will represent Jamaica in the event will be selected from the seven competitors who remained in the event, at the trials after Danielle Williams had been disqualified. The selection is based on the three with the highest ranking in the event, based on International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) rankings as of August 16; however, Danielle Williams remained ineligible because of her disqualification, irrespective of her ranking.

With the JAAA having made firm their stance, it meant there was no hope for Danielle Williams to compete in Doha, but, alas, there is — the winner of the Diamond League event earns a wild card entry to compete in the event. This was Danielle's only chance.

However, the president of the JAAA moved swiftly to quash her hopes stating that in the event she earned a wild card via the Diamond League, “We, the federation, would meet to discuss if we would accept it.” This is undoubtedly the first time the Jamaican public has heard such a stance on the wild card entry. It's not a situation in which we also have the defending champion, it's our only wild card entry to the event — a chance to have four lovely, hard-working ladies competing in the event. Would this now deter and demotivate our champion athlete?

On Saturday, July 20, 2019, in the heats of her event at the Diamond League in London she sped to 12.42 seconds, just short of her Jamaican counterpart Janeek Brown's world-leading time of 12.40 seconds, whetting our appetites for what was to come in the final.

A few hours passed and the final was upon us.

The athletes are in the blocks, the gun goes off, and it's a clean start. Danielle powers through and dismantles the field. It's one of the widest victory margins you will see in a major competitive sprint hurdles event. She sped to a world leading time and national record of 12.32 seconds to become the seventh-fastest woman in the event in history; it's also the fastest time recorded in the event in the last two years. With this commanding victory she now leads the Diamond League standings in the event with a few more meets to go, including the Diamond League final, where a win will secure her wild card entry to compete at the World Championships in Doha.

The sprint hurdles event tends to provide great drama, and fans of Danielle Williams are cheering her on hoping she gets that wild card entry. Even if she fails to secure that wild card entry, her performance throughout the course of the season, and especially on Saturday, should be enough to encourage the JAAA to change their stance and allow her to compete in Doha.

She is currently ranked number 2 in the event, the only Jamaican in the top 10, the closest being former world lead Janeek Brown, ranked at number 13.

It's important that the JAAA remembers that the scrapped event at the trials means no one has yet earned a place on the World Championships team. Plus, allowing Danielle to run in the wild card spot would not be robbing anyone of her place; to the contrary, she would have earned that spot.

Danielle, the JAAA has placed barriers before you, but they forget one thing, you're a hurdles champion, you clear barriers for a living. Now, go make us proud! You got this! Goooo, Danielle!

knb800@yahoo.com


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