'Trials' belonged to new generation of stars
THE dust has settled after four days of competition at the 2013 JAAA/Supreme Ventures National Senior Championships that ended on Sunday night with a sublime run by Warren Weir in the men's 200m, winning in a personal best 19.79 seconds.
Weir's fireworks came moments after Olympic silver medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce ran a world-leading 22.13 seconds as the meet ended on a high as the Jamaican track and field stars booked their spots on the plane to Moscow, Russia for the IAAF World Championships in August.
There were notable meet absentees in world champion Yohan Blake, 2011 World Championships women's 200m champion Veronica Campbell Brown, who were absent for different reasons. Also, there was the non-appearance of former Olympic Games and World Championships 400m hurdles gold medallist Melaine Walker.
Then there was the crushing disappointment in the failure of former world record holder Asafa Powell to finish in the top three in the men's 100m as well as the unfortunate accident that kept men's 110m hurdles world leader Hansle Parchment out of the meet were also dark spots, but other performances made up to the thousands who turned out over the weekend.
Usain Bolt's effortless 9.94 seconds win in the men's 100m on Friday night and the emergence of a battery of young stars, including Kemar Bailey-Cole and female quarter-miler Stephanie McPherson whet the appetites of fans and the medal projections will have already started.
At least three athletes achieved the A qualifying standard over the weekend to confirm their places in triple jumper Kimberly Williams (14.40m) and long jumper Damar Forbes (8.25m), both got the exact mark needed while 800m runner Natoya Goule, roared on by the grandstand, ran a new life time personal best 1:59.93 minutes to punch her ticket to Russia.
While the favourites to a large extent obliged, these championships will be remembered for the emergence of the new breed.
All three men in the 400m, including 18 year-old Calabar High student Javon Francis, will be making their first trip to a major global championship in an individual capacity and all three have yet to run under 45.00 seconds.
Javere Bell won his first national senior title with a new personal best of 45.08 seconds, Francis also had another personal best 45.28 seconds, while Akheem Gauntlett took the other place to Moscow.
While it may be too much to expect for any of the three to make it to the finals in Moscow, the prospects of the 4x400m relay team medalling will be high.
Twenty-year-old Danielle Williams, who was just edged out of the medals in the 100m hurdles at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Moncton, Canada, in 2010, will be leading the charge that includes her older sister Shermaine, a World Junior Championships silver medallist, and veteran Andrea Bliss who broke her eight-year-old personal best when she was second on Sunday.
The women's 100m hurdles lived up to its pre-championship billing as the top-four women all went under the A qualifying standard for Moscow.
In the women's 400m, McPherson lost for the first time on local soli this season, but only after yet another brilliant performance from Novlene Williams Mills, who ran a season's best 50.01 seconds, separating from the former Mannings School star in the final 60 metres of the race.
This was Macpherson's first national team selection and she joins Williams-Mills and Patricia Hall, who was injured in the 400m final last year to carry Jamaica's flag in the women's 400m in Moscow.
Former World Championships and Olympic Games silver medallist Shericka Williams and Rosemarie Whyte, who were teammates on the bronze medal-winning 4x400m relay team in London last year, finished seventh and eighth in that race.