Spencer reigns supreme in the 400m hurdles


BY HOWARD WALKER Observer senior reporter walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, January 10, 2015

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HAVING already copped the Caribbean Sports Journalists and the JAAA Athlete of the Year titles, Kaliese Spencer has done everything asked of her to be named RJR Sports Foundation National Sportswoman of the Year.

The year 2014 was a supreme one for Spencer as she made her pet event -- the 400m hurdles -- her own, with some scintillating and dominant performances.

In March, Spencer showed her versatility and won two silver medals at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot, Poland. She was second in the flat 400m in a personal indoor best of 51.54 seconds behind American Francena McCorory in 51.12 seconds.

Spencer would later run the third leg of the 4x400m relays that included Patricia Hall, Anneisha McLaughlin and Stephanie McPherson to establish a national indoor record of 3:26.54 minutes. It is the third fastest time ever behind winner the United States of America, who did 3:24.83 for gold. The Russians with 3:23.37 minutes done in 2006 is the fastest.

In June, Spencer yet again became the Jamaican champion over the 400m hurdles in a world-leading time of 53.41 seconds before taking the world by storm.

Despite the outstanding performer of 2013, Czech Republic's Zuzana Hejnova missing most of the year due to injury, nothing can be taken away from Spencer's awesome displays throughout the year in which she had the three fastest times over the 400m hurdles, and eight of the top 10 times for the year.

Spencer, 27, who was born in Westmoreland, lost her opening race at the Doha Diamond League where she was upstaged by Bahrain's unheralded Kemi Adekoya, but went on to win every race afterwards.

She would eventually win seven Diamond League races and was the overall champion, walking away with her piece of the precious stone for the fourth time since 2010.

In-between the Diamond League races, Spencer had time to be crowned Commonwealth Games champion over the 400m hurdles in 54.10 seconds.

Spencer's dominant year ended with her dipping under 54 seconds four times and under 54.30 eight times.

The only other sub-54 hurdler was American Kori Carter with her 53.84 at the US Championships, but her best after that was 55.94 seconds.

Spencer would end her season in style, picking up another gold in September, this time representing the Americas in the IAAF Continental Cup in Morocco. Spencer clocked 53.81 seconds and once again she defeated the emerging star Eilidh Child of Great Britain, who clocked 54.42 seconds.

It would be a fitting end to her 2014 campaign as Sportswoman of the Year following an outstanding season in which she dominated IAAF Diamond League; picked up the Commonwealth Games title, won a silver medal as part of Jamaica's 4x400m team at the IAAF World Relays in Nassau, and posted a world-leading time of 53.41 to win the Jamaican Championships in June.

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