‘Weir’ there’s a will...

200m star fights way back to top after battling injury

BY HOWARD WALKER Observer senior reporter walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, June 02, 2016

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The men’s 200m at the Racers Grand Prix should be hot, exciting and rivetting, as some of the event’s most promising athletes and protagonists for Usain Bolt’s crown will be in action.

The half-lap race will feature Jamaica’s 2012 Olympic bronze medallist and 2013 World Championships silver medallist Warren Weir, who is expected to display the kind of form that will indicate he is nearing his brilliant best.

Weir will line up against the likes of American veteran Wallace Spearmon, who is a multiple medallist at the World Championships; Panama’s Alonso Edward, the 2009 silver medallist; a dangerous Zharnel Hughes of Great Britain; the improving Miguel Francis of Antigua; Jamaica’s Commonwealth Games champion Rasheed Dwyer; and American Terrell Cotton.

Weir seems to be back to his best after winning the 100m in 10.07 seconds at the JAAA All Comers meet on April 16, which is just outside his personal best of 10.02 set in 2013.

As testimony to his quality and achievement, the talented sprinter finished third at the 2012 Olympics and enabled Jamaica to sweep the 200m event with the top three places on the podium behind Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake.

The 200m sweep was also historic for Coach Glen Mills of Racers Track Club, who conditioned the record-breaking trio.

Weir, 26, was a standout at Calabar High School, running the 100m, 200m and 110 hurdles, before making the switch to Racers as a professional. He gave up the hurdle event because of the constant knee pain and concentrated on 200m event in 2012, then steadily improved his times from 20.21 to 20.13 then 20.08 before the Olympics.

He broke the 20-second barrier at the Jamaican Trials in July 2012, clocking 19.99 seconds grabbing his spot to the London Olympics. He then went even better by stopping the clock at 19.84 seconds for bronze behind Bolt and Blake.

Weir continued to improve and lowered his personal best to 19.79 seconds in finishing second behind Bolt at the Moscow World Championships in 2013. The last two years, saw Weir struggle with injuries which resulted in failure for him at the Beijing World Championships last year, where he clocked a pedestrian 20.43 in the semifinals and failed to make the final.

As he gets back to the top of his game, he has a season’s best over the 200m of 21.23 seconds earlier this year, and fans can look forward to a much-improved time at the Racers Grand Prix set for the National Stadium on June 11.

Weir will have most to fear from Panama’s Alonso Edwards, who has a season’s best of 20.06, which is the fifth-fastest this year, and his training partner Zharnel Hughes, who is highly touted by his High Performance Centre Coach Patrick Dawson.

Antigua’s Miguel Francis, who is based in Jamaica, has been running well with times of 20.11 and 20.16 and should make his presence felt.

American Spearmon cannot be counted out, while his compatriot Terrell Cotton, who has a best time of 20.16 seconds, should run well also.

Jamaica’s 2014 Commonwealth Games champion Rasheed Dwyer has a season’s best 20.5, but he should be lowering that time, especially in this competitive 200m race.

However, Weir, who will see this Racers Grand Prix as very personal to him and close to his heart, will want to send a message to the rest of the world that he is back and fans can expect something special.

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