Ackera Nugent's World Youth record a great surprise

...But coach targets much lower time for this year

BY HOWARD WALKER
Senior staff reporter
walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, February 04, 2019

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Sixteen-year-old Ackera Nugent of Excelsior High School lowered the World Youth 100m hurdles record with a stunning 12.89 seconds in her seasonal debut at the Youngster Goldsmith Classic on Saturday, inside National Stadium.

Running with a tailwind of 1.5 mps, which is within the allowable limit of 2.0 mps, Nugent erased fellow Jamaican Yanique Thompson's 100m hurdles (76.2 cm) Under-18 world record of 12.94 seconds set in 2013 at the World Youth Championship in Ukraine.

Nugent, who turns 17 on April 29, had run 13.3 in the preliminary into a headwind of 1.7 mps, and later returned in the final to smash the meet record of 13.65 held by Megan Simmonds since 2015.

“As a 16-year-old just opening my season I wasn't excpecting this time, but I was expecting a personal best in the 13 bracket,” Nugent told the Ja maica Observer.

Nugent, who said she only became aware of her world record run on Sunday morning, could not contain herself.

“My emotion was like screaming and jumping on my mother, although she pushed me off and called me idiot,” joked Nugent. “Then she asked me is what and I told her, and we started to give a word of thanks to the Lord in tears of joy.”

Nugent surprised her coach Douglas Williams, who was extremely happy, though he didn't expect her to run this fast so early.

“I am feeling great knowing what happened yesterday (Saturday), but we weren't even looking for that time. When I saw what she did in the heats I was thinking 13 flat or maybe break the barrier (13 seconds). But she did more than that,” said Williams.

“Her aim for this year is 12.6 seconds and with the type of work that we are doing right now, it is very possible for her to run 12.6,” he suggested.

Jamaica has three of the four Under-18 and Under-20 world records, as Dejour Russell is the Under-18 110m hurdles (91.4 cm) title holder with 13.04 seconds set in 2017, and Damion Thomas holds the Under-20 (99.0 cm) with 12.99 seconds set last year.

“I guess that a lot of us are looking at the event differently. I see where we can control the event. We have a lot of talented coaches in Jamaica and we are working towards getting the sprinters there. A lot of people forget that the event is a sprint hurdle,” Williams emphasised.

Jamaica currently boasts the men's Olympic gold medallist and World Championships title-holder Omar McLeod, along with the Commonwealth Games champion Ronald Levy, and Hansle Parchment, the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist and 2018 NACAC champion, plus Danielle Williams, the 2015 World champion.

National coach David Riley, who is also the technical director at Excelsior High School, believes the country's sprint hurdles programme is in good stead.

“It is very clear that we know how to hurdle, and that is demonstrated in that we are not just winning medals on the international scene, we are producing the best times ever over the distances — and that is a tremendous commendation for our coaches who are learning the craft and getting better at it,” said Riley.

He continued: “The athletes are also seeing hurdles as another option. We might be getting a better crop of athletes with flat speed to run the hurdles than we were getting before, so it's a good look all-round.”

Jamaica first made its mark on the world stage with Deon Hemmings-McCatty winning the 400m hurdles at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. She was the first Jamaican to do so.

Melaine Walker followed with gold in the 400m at the 2008 Olympics in China, and still holds the Olympic record of 52.64 seconds. Her time of 52.42 seconds at the 2009 World Championships is the second-fastest time in history.

Brigette Foster-Hylton also left her mark, capturing gold in the 100m hurdles at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin at age 35 after a series of near misses, and is the 2006 Commonwealth Games champion.


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