LONDON, England — A historic 10th-place finish by shot putter Dorian Scott highlighted a good opening day by Jamaica at Olympic Stadium yesterday as the track and field programme of the 27th Olympic Games got underway under typically unpredictable British summer weather conditions.
Scott, who missed the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, last year, and was in his fourth competition this season, became the first Jamaica thrower to make the final at an Olympic Games, throwing 20.61m in the final to just miss the top eight by a mere eight centimetres.
Scott, who spent most of the season coaching at the American College level, had qualified for the final after placing 11th in the morning's preliminaries with 20.31m.
In addition to Scott's qualifying for Jamaica's first track and field final at the Games, nine other athletes advanced to the next round of their respective events; led by triple jumpers Kimberly Williams and Trecia Smith, who both qualified for the women's triple jump final on Sunday; all three female sprinters; all three women's 400m runners; as well as Leford Green, the 400m hurdler who advanced to today's semi-finals.
Four other athletes — Roxroy Cato and Josef Robertson in the men's 400m hurdles, Allison Randall in the women's discus throw and Damar Forbes in the men's long jump — all failed to advance from their first round competitions.
Cato was fifth in his heat in 50.22 seconds, ripping up his running tights in the process, while Robertson ran 49.98 seconds, also for fifth.
Randall was 11th in her group in the discus throw, qualifying with a best throw of 58.06m for 29th overall out of 34 athletes, while Forbes, who said he had some issues with his technique, managed only 7.79m for 19th overall in the long jump first round.
Scott described his feelings after the event as "awesome" and said his success in the morning, as well as that of the other athletes had set off a lot of celebrations in the Jamaican camp after the morning session.
During the final, Scott, who said he felt he had lost some of his power due to lack of time in the gym because of his coaching duties, told reporters the first throw that only went 19.51m "got away".
He said because of the lack of competition all year, "I kinda lost touch and got caught up in the atmosphere, instead of staying in a technical mode", but said his next throw 20.61m was "one of my farthest throws". He said he did his best on the occasion. "I went as far as I could."
Williams and Smith will also represent a new frontier in Jamaican track and field as it will be the first time two athletes will represent the island in a global triple jump final.
Williams continued her outstanding season as she took just one jump to get past the automatic qualifying mark of 14.40m with a new personal best 14.53m, her third improvement this season, while Smith needed all three of her attempts, registering one legal mark, a season best 14.31m.
Kazakhstan's Olga Rypakova led the 12 qualifiers with 14.79m on a runway described by Smith, who was seventh overall, as "super fast".
Williams, the former Vere Technical and Florida State University standout, told reporters after her event that she felt she had a lot left in store. "I feel good, I feel like there is more there, so hopefully on Sunday I will be able to go out and execute and do everything that I have been doing all year, try to put them all together and make it count this time because Sunday is when it all counts."
National champion Novlene Williams-Mills led all the Jamaican women into the 400m semis after winning her heat in 50.88 seconds, while both Christine Day and Rosemarie Whyte were second in their heats.
"I just wanted to come out and give a good run, make sure I was in control of my heat, and get a good lane for the semis," said Williams-Mills, who re-emphasised that she expects to get a spot on the medal podium, though she claims there is no pressure on her. "At the end of the day I have to do this for myself, so I can't pressure myself."