Sport

Women's 400m hurdlers need to train harder — Hemmings-McCatty

BY PAUL A REID Observer writer

Wednesday, January 29, 2014    

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MONTEGO BAY, St James -- Atlanta Olympic Games gold medallist Deon Hemmings-McCatty believes the lack of hard work in training could be hampering the progress of Jamaica's top women 400m hurdlers.

After the successes of Hemmings-McCatty and World and Olympic champion Melaine Walker, and to some extent Kaliese Spencer, the multiple IAAF Diamond race champion and Olympic and World Championships finalists, Jamaica's women's intermediate hurdlers have not produced the goods.

Spencer, national junior record holder Ristananna Tracey, IAAF World Youth Championships silver medallist Daniel Dowie, and Nickiesha Wilson were all expected to take up the mantle and challenge for medals after Walker's sudden switch from the event back to the 100m hurdles last year.

Wilson was eighth in the final at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Russia, last year. Tracey did not advance past the semi-finals for the second-straight World Championships, Dowie finished sixth in her first-round heat and failed to advance, while Spencer, who was fourth in London, was disqualified in the first round after it was ruled that she had infringed a rule that said both knees must clear all the hurdles.

Hemmings-McCatty, who was a member of the management team to Moscow, told reporters at the launch of the 36th Milo Western Relays held in Montego Bay on Wednesday, "We have fallen off badly in the hurdles. Normally we have at least one hurdler doing well, I know (Olympic bronze medallist) Hansle Parchment was injured, but I still think we should have done better, especially in the (female) 400m hurdles where we have excelled a lot."

Hemmings-McCatty, who left York Castle High for Vere Technical before taking up a scholarship in the United States, said while she has not paid too much attention to the sprint hurdlers, she knows from her vast experience that to be successful in the 400m hurdles, athletes must be prepared to work harder than in any other event.

"In the 400m hurdles you have to train extremely hard, and I don't think they are training as hard as they are supposed to, but they do have the talent," she said, pointing at Tracey as an example. Tracey ran 54.58 seconds in 2011, the second-fastest ever, but has had injury setbacks since before lowering it to 54.52 seconds at last year's JAAA/Supreme Ventures National Senior Trials.

"Ristanana Tracey, Kaliese Spencer and Daniel Dowie are all bright prospects, I keep in touch with Daniel, I think she has a very bright future, but she needs the training and I don't know if she is getting it," Hemmings-McCatty said.

In the case of Spencer, who up to last year had made all the finals at two IAAF World Championships, the London Olympics, and won 12 IAAF Diamond League races on her way to two overall Diamond trophies, Hemmings-McCatty said the problem could be "more mental". "She is in a very good camp (MVP), she needs to get it together; maybe she needs to focus on her technique."

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