Bolt to set place on fire if tested, says national coach
NATIONAL head coach Maurice Wilson foresees not very fast times generally at the National Championships, which begins today, but believes that Usain Bolt, if pushed, "could set the place on fire".
He also thinks that Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Melaine Walker, Andrew Riley, and Novlene Williams-Mills will ring true as national champions in 2012.
"The National Trials should be very exciting, but don't expect exceptional fast times because of how difficult some of the rounds may be," Wilson explained. Usain should be the athlete, if tested, could be the one to set the place on fire," he added.
While Wilson expects reigning Olympic champion Bolt to win both the 100 and 200 metres, it is not a foregone conclusion that Blake will be runner-up in both sprints.
He sees Powell as finishing second in the 100m "on the basis of experience and he has always run well at the championships in Jamaica".
"Yohan Blake could still be second if he gets a good start," Wilson, long-time head coach for many-time girls' champions Holmwood Technical High School, added.
Nickel Ashmeade, Nesta Carter, and Michael Frater should finish in the top six with Frater "a sentimental favourite and a big-championship performer".
"Nesta and Frater have the pedigree to be in the top five," Wilson pointed out.
Bolt, 25, has run 29 legal times under 10 seconds, including a stadium record 9.76 seconds on May 3, 2008.
Powell owns a whopping 77 legal times under 10 seconds and has run 9.84 seconds in Kingston on May 7, 2005.
In the 200m, Wilson predicts Bolt, Blake (if he runs the 200m) and Nickel Ashmeade.
"These predictions are based off times ran throughout the season, but youngsters Warren Weir, Rasheed Dwyer and veteran Marvin Anderson should be in contention for a place depending on what happens between the top three," he pointed out.
In the 400m, "Jermaine Gonzales goes in as the favourite with Dane Hyatt, Akheem Gauntlett (the fastest Jamaican this year), Lansford Spence, Ricardo Chambers, and Riker Hylton posing serious threats for the title".
The national coach, who is a principal lecturer at GC Foster College responsible for new short courses, gives the nod to NCAA Division One male athlete-of-the-year Andrew Riley in the 110m hurdles, ahead of Hansle Parchment and Dwight Thomas.
"Hansle is the sentimental local favourite, but the experience of Riley should prevail if he is not too tired from the NCAAs."
For the speedy ladies, Wilson, who has 22 years of coaching experience, believes Fraser-Pryce will take the 100m over Veronica Campbell Brown and Kerron Stewart.
With 14 times under 11 seconds and a quick 10.85 at the National Stadium, the diminutive sprinter will depend on her bullet start to zap the field, while Campbell-Brown, who has clocked under 11 seconds 24 times, leads 7-4 in head-to-head clashes with Fraser-Pryce in this event.
The reigning Olympic 200m champion ran 10.84 seconds at the Stadium last year. American Carmelita Jeter holds the Stadium record of 10.81 seconds set last May.
The national coach, who laid the foundation for about 10 athletes representing Jamaica at the World Championships and the Olympic Games, sees Campbell Brown taking the half-lap event ahead of Fraser-Pryce and Anneisha McLaughlin, with Stewart next or somewhere in between.
In the women's one-lap, Williams-Mills gets the preference over Rosemarie Whyte, Shericka Williams and Patricia Hall, said Williams.
"Any of the top three can emerge victorious," he conceded.
In terms of the women's 400m hurdles, "Melaine Walker will not lose in Jamaica", stated Wilson. Kaliese Spencer and Nickiesha Wilson will follow, with youngsters Ristananna Tracey and Danielle Dowie to keep them on their toes.