The 400m chose Shericka Jackson, but she’s not complaining

RJR NATIONAL SPORTSMAN AND SPORTSWOMAN AWARDS NOMINEE

BY HOWARD WALKER Observer senior reporter walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, January 07, 2016

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"LISTEN to your coach and you can’t go wrong," Shericka Jackson was told in no uncertain manner by coach Stephen Francis as he attempted to get her to shift focus from the 200m to the 400m.


She heeded the advice and is now the proud holder of a 400m bronze medal and a fantastic personal record of 49.99 seconds earned at the Beijing World Championships 2015.


Jackson, 21, with a personal best of 22.84 seconds, is one of Jamaica’s most promising 200m runners and was a bronze medallist at the IAAF World Youth Championship in France in 2011.


But her MVP coach Francis insisted that she must forget about the 200m and concentrate on the less explosive 400m.


"She ran the 400m in high school and we all know she wasn’t fond of it. But I believe that, first of all, she is not a 100m-type sprinter, so by running the 400 it would help her 200. I also believe that she can run under 48 (seconds] in a couple of years, and we will make a good go at it and see what happens," Francis had told the Jamaica Observer.


It took a while before Jackson accepted her coach’s reasoning, but when she did, she took almost two seconds off her personal best in the 400m of 51.32 at the start of 2015 and lowered it to 49.99 seconds, becoming the eighth fastest Jamaican over the distance.


Lorraine Fenton is the national record holder with 49.30, while Shericka Williams (49.32), Grace Jackson (49.57), Novlene Williams-Mills (49.63), Sandie Richards (49.80), Rosemarie Whyte (49.84) and Stephenie Ann McPherson (49.92) have gone faster.


Francis believes the world hasn’t seen the best of Shericka Jackson as yet, and expects the rising star to run under 48 seconds within the next two years.


Jackson ran her personal best twice in securing a bronze medal in the 400m. She entered the World Championships with a personal best of 50.31 seconds, lowered it to 50.03 in the semi-finals before going even better, dipping below the 50-second barrier with her new personal best.


The race was won by the outstanding Allyson Felix in 49.26 seconds, while Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas claimed silver in a personal best of 49.67 seconds.


Jackson’s Jamaican teammates Christine Day (50.14), McPherson (50.42) and Williams-Mills (50.47) came in fourth fifth and sixth (50.47s), respectively.


The former Vere Technical High school standout, Jackson, wasn’t finished and teamed up with Day, McPherson and Williams-Mills to win gold in the 4x400m relay and broke the American dominance of the event.


Jamaica won in 3:19.13 minutes ahead of the USA with 3:19.44, while Great Britain took the bronze in 3:23.62.


Day gave Jamaica a brilliant start with a 50.5 opening leg and was way ahead of American Sanya Richards-Ross, who clocked 51.5 before Jackson established a huge 15m lead with a superb 49.4 seconds. McPherson clocked 50.19, but was caught by Felix with a superb 47.72 leg. But it was Williams-Mills with a magnificent 49.14 that propelled Jamaica to victory.


Jackson’s 49.4 run was the third fastest split overall behind Felix’s unbelievable 47.72 and Williams-Mills’ 49.14.

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