Sports

'Rista' aims to get it right on Grand Prix stage

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, May 26, 2018

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With the third staging of the JN Racers Grand Prix some 15 days away, 400-metre hurdler Ristananna Tracey is steadily rounding into form as she aims for a surprise performance.

Tracey, last year's World Championship bronze medallist, has been one of Jamaica's most promising young athletes over the years, but injuries have sometimes prevented her from performing at her best on the world stage.

As such, she has found it difficult to maintain consistency, which proved her undoing earlier this year, as she failed to emulate her London performance at the recent Commonwealth Games in The Gold Coast, Australia.

The Maurice Wilson-coached athlete, who produced her best run to date at the IAAF World Championships in London when she clocked a personal best 53.74 for bronze, finished at the back of the field at the Commonwealth Games in a pedestrian 57.50.

This as she has been struggling with chondromalacia patellae, a condition in which the cartilage on the undersurface of the patella (kneecap) deteriorates and softens.

But she is optimistic that all will fall into place come June 9, when she graces the track as one of the next generation of stars who will converge for another spectacular showing inside the National Stadium.

“Everyone has adventures in their careers, some good and some bad. My season started out slow because I had to be dealing with chondromalacia patellae... so I was on and off in training, losing a lot of critical background preparation, and my poor performance at the Commonwealth Games was as a result of that.

“So I am definitely not pleased with where I am at now. However, I am working hard and smart to get back to full fitness. I always say that my setbacks are what push and motivate me to go forward and so I continue to fight the good fight,” she told the Jamaica Observer in a recent interview.

At the Jamaica International Invitational meet last week, Tracey had to settle for sixth in the event in a time of 56.38, behind the super-fit Commonwealth Games champion Janieve Russell.

With Russell, and other compatriots Kaliese Spencer and Rhonda Whyte also set to line up alongside American Olympians Cassandra Tate and Ashley Spencer, Tracey is cognisant that upstaging her more fancied rivals will by no means be an easy task.

“I am only aware of one particular athlete (Russell) at the moment. However, 400m hurdle is a very technical event, and so I am preparing to get my race rhythm on point and run my own race and not that of any of my competitors.

“So at the moment I am just expecting to go out there and execute my race as best as possible and also to keep building and improving on my performances,” she declared.

The 25-year-old, whose season best of 55.66 came in the rounds at the Gold Coast Games, will be making her second appearance at the event and she is once again excited about rubbing shoulders with an all-star cast of the world's finest on home soil.

“Usain Bolt is a living legend and the track and field community misses him dearly. But I think the Racers Grand Prix will be great again this year since the meet has established itself as a world-class meet.

“There will be a lot of world-class athletes, showcasing world-class performances, so patrons should come out and support Jamaica's athletes and expect nothing but the best,” the 5ft 10in smooth-striding hurdler, who also represented Jamaica at the 2011, 2013 and 2015 World Championship stage, noted.

Athletes from more than five countries are expected to compete at the meet that will be held to aid in the development of Jamaica's athletics and that of the Racers Track Club.

A total of 13 international events – six on the men's side and seven for the women's – will be contested, to be complemented by four Olympic Development events. The women will compete in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 400m hurdles, 800m as well as the triple jump and shot put.

The men will lock horns in the 100m, 200, 110m hurdles, 400m, as well as the discus and high jump.

Admission to the JN Racers Grand Prix is $6,000 for grand stand finish line and $3,500 for other areas of the grand stand, while patrons will pay $1,000 to access the bleachers.

Physical tickets will be available at various outlets during the week of the meet.

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