Sport

Expectations high Jamaicans could exceed Beijing haul

BY PAUL A REID Observer staff reporter

Thursday, July 19, 2012    

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BIRMINGHAM, England — Expectations are high that the Jamaican athletes will exceed the 11 medals won four years ago in China at the London Olympics that will get underway in just over a week's time.

After a number of outstanding performances leading up to and after the JAAA/Supreme Ventures National Trials two weeks ago, track fans in Jamaica and the Diaspora are predicting upwards of 15 to 16 medals.

A few weeks ago, however, Donald Quarrie, the technical head of the track and field team and coach Maurice Wilson, had asked that expectations be tempered.

A squad of 50 athletes including one each from swimming (Alia Atkinson), Samantha Albert (equestrian) and Kenneth Edwards (Taekwondo) as well as 47 track athletes were named to represent Jamaica at the Olympics that starts on July 27 with the Opening Ceremony and ends on August 12.

Of the non track and field athletes taking part, Atkinson, who will contest her third Olympics, will be a long shot to make it to the final of the 100m breaststroke, but the Amateur Swimming Association of Jamaica's president Martin Lyn was confident she could create history by winning a medal in what is expected to be a tough event.

In track and field, after placing 25 athletes in finals in Beijing in 2008 and with what is expected to be a stronger team this year, the medal haul could exceed the six gold, three silver and two bronze.

The eleven medals won in 2008 were the most ever at one Olympic Games and brought Jamaica's total to 56 from 1948.

The weather could be play a part as it has been cold and rainy for the past few weeks and it is expected to continue through the entire games much to the chagrin of most people who have spoken to the Jamaica Observer in the past few days.

Despite it being summer, light jackets and raincoats have been the favoured mode of dress here and the afternoons and evenings have been cool with temperatures dropping into the high 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

On the track, with Yohan Blake's double win over double sprint World Record holder Usain Bolt at the JAAA/Supreme Ventures National Senior Champs, has served to raise the bar as far as the medal expectations are concerned.

While Quarrie's and Wilson's warnings regarding tempering expectations are to be heeded, all things being equal Jamaica should add another 13 medals, and if things go better than expected and with some luck, the number could rise to as many as 17.

It should be a safe bet that both Bolt and Blake should medal in both the 100m and 200m races, and given his performances of late, especially just before and at Trials, Asafa Powell could win his first individual medal at the Olympics after two bronze in the World Championships.

The men's 4x100m team should be a cinch for a medal and maybe even another World Record, while the 4x400m team with some luck and a healthy Jermaine Gonzales should medal.

The outside medal hope should come from the 110m hurdles were the trio of NCAA champion Andrew Riley, the only man to win Division One 100m and 110m hurdles at the same meet, up-and-coming and unpredictable Hansle Parchment, who seems to lower his personal best every time he runs and Richard Phillips who was a finalist in China could surprise.

The women's team is deeper than the men's and is expected to provide the bulk of the medals.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who was quiet in the early part of the season, exploded with two personal bests at Trials — a new national record of 10.70 seconds in the 100m and a personal best 22.10 seconds in the 200m, both World Leading times.

If she at least maintains this form, she could become the first Jamaican female to cop the double at any senior global championships.

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