Jamaica rally to grab 6 medals at WJC
EUGENE, OREGON — After a shaky start to the week, Jamaican junior athletes left the 15th IAAF World Junior Championships here with six medals — a gold, two silver and three bronze, and a huge sigh of relief.
The Jamaicans had to wait until Thursday evening's session, the third day of the championships, to win their first medal, a silver by Tyler Mason in the men's 110m hurdles to get the ball rolling.
National junior records by Mason and gold medal winner Jaheel Hyde were the highlight of the Jamaican performances, while Michael O'Hara's bronze in the 200m was the other individual medal won.
Nine Jamaican athletes also achieved personal best marks, while three of the four relay teams also had season's best times.
Jamaica finished 11th in the medals table that was topped by the United States with 21 medals, 11 gold, five silver and five bronze, followed by Kenya with 16 (4-5-7), Ethiopia on six (three gold and three silver), Great Britain and Northern Ireland also on six (3-2-1) and Russia with six (3-1-2).
Cuba topped the region with five medals — a gold and four silver, while Barbados and Trinidad both finished with one gold each.
Jamaica's six medals are tied for the fourth best in one championships with the haul from 1998 in Annecy, France, and 2008 in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
The 11 medals won in Kingston in 2002 was the most won at any one championships, while nine each came in 1992 and 2004 as Jamaica have now won 83 medals at these championships — 21 gold, 31 silver and 31 bronze.
Michael Carr, the head coach for the team, said the success was a team effort.
"I think overall we gave a strong team effort from management and athletes," Carr said. "The week started with some difficulties, but that was expected... now we have to be satisfied, given the conditions here."
The week got off to a rough start with the news that Jonielle Smith would not be able to run the women's 100m, while O'Hara, who had arrived on early Monday morning, was a reluctant entrant in the men's 100m.
The mood in the Jamaican camp flagged when none of the three Jamaicans managed to get into the final of the 100m on Wednesday, but Mason's brilliant run to the silver in 13.06 seconds, a new area junior record, beaten only by France's Wilhem Belocian's world junior record of 12.99 seconds, lifted the mood noticeably.
Carr said all the athletes performed at their best and for the first time in a long time there were no major injuries to report.
In addition to Hyde's and Mason's national junior record performances, Carr had high praise for O'Hara's bronze medal, saying the young athlete "dug deep for the medal". Natalliah Whyte and Genekee Leith, who made it to their respective finals, as well as discus thrower Glenford Watson, who had a personal best, also came in for praise.
For the first time two Jamaican men qualified for the high jump final and both, Christoff Bryan and Clayton Brown, produced lifetime best efforts. Bryan lost a medal on the countback as he along with the top three men cleared 2.24m, while Clayton Brown cleared 2.17m for 10th place.
The Jamaican athletes who recorded lifetime best performances were Shadae Lawrence in the women's discus, Watson in the men's discus throw, O'Hara in the 200m semi-finals, Bryan and Brown in the men's high jump, Krista Gay Taylor in the women's high jump, and Genekee Leith in the women's 400m hurdles.