Sport

Steele says 4X4 relay is 'Weir' Warren belongs

BY HOWARD WALKER Observer senior reporter walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, February 13, 2014    

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TOP Jamaican quarter-miler Edino Steele wants 200m sprinter Warren Weir to be included in the mile-relay squad in an effort to break the dominance of the Americans at the World Relays coming in May in The Bahamas.

Steele, who is off to the United Kingdom for an indoor race in Birmingham this Saturday, told the Jamaica Observer that Weir has heart and will enhance the 4x400m relay team.

"After what we did last year in Moscow, I believe that with the team and the pool that we got, with the youngster (Javon Francis) also running 45 last week, with me...it wouldn't be shameful to add Warren Weir in that 4x4 squad," said Steele.

Steele had just won a 400m heat in 45.44 seconds at the Camperdown Classic, and Weir who appeared tired, put in a gutzy run to finish fourth in 47.53 seconds.

"With a guy like that with heart knowing that he can run that fast, I hope the committees and the JAAA can pick the best six or seven guys to go to the championship, so we can do something spectacular against the Americans," he added.

Jamaica had some thrilling and memorable battles with the Americans in the 4x400m, starting back 66 years ago at the London Olympics in 1948.

The legendary Herb McKenley, Arthur Wint, George Rhoden and Les Laing made up the last team that actually defeated the Americans in that event in 1952 en route to a new world record of 3:03.9 minutes. Since then, the Americans have pretty much dominated Jamaica and the world.

But last year, despite playing second fiddle to the Americans, the Jamaican team, which included Rusheen McDonald, Edino Steele, Omar Johnson and schoolboy Javon Francis, stopped the clock in a season-best 2:59.88. The USA, anchored by LaShawn Merritt, won comfortably in 2:58.71.

But the Jamaican team was young and inexperienced and it took a jaw-dropping anchor-leg run of 44.00 seconds by 18-year-old Francis to propel Jamaica from fifth to second in what was voted as the RJR Sports Foundation's People's Choice Performance of the Year.

Lead-off man McDonald was timed at 45.8, Steele followed with 44.21 and Johnson was clocked at 45.5.

With Jermaine Gonzalez out injured again, a pool with Allodin Fothergill, Javere Bell , Errol Nolan and possibly another schoolboy in Martin Manley, Jamaica could be much closer to upsetting the Americans.

Meanwhile, Steele, 27, has his eyes set on representing Jamaica at IAAF World Indoor Championship set for Sepot, Poland in March. Steele has won silver in the 4x400m relay at the 2008 Indoor Championship.

"I am leaving in a couple days and the first race is in Birmingham next week Saturday and with that 45.4... going indoors, I know I can produce another 45," he said last Saturday.

"A friend of mine in Trinidad ran 45.17 indoors and he never beat me, so I believe I can produce better than what he did and improve on that," Steele pointed out.

The Racers athlete has a personal best of 45.38 for the 400m done in July 2012 and believes he is on course to better that this season.

"It's just progression now. I am taking it step by step and do some sub-44s this year.

"The coach (Glen Mills) had told me I am stronger in the past two years working with him and hopefully we can continue to strive for excellence," he noted.

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