NEWS

Danielle Williams pulls compatriots into sprint hurdles semis

BY HOWARD WALKER
Senior staff reporter
walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Doha, Qatar — World leader Danielle Williams led Yaneek Brown, Megan Tapper, and Yanique Thompson safely into the semi-finals of the 100m hurdles here yesterday.

Williams, who is tipped for gold, looked extremely easy in recording 12.51 seconds (0.3 m/s) while cruising home in heat three, which was the second fastest of the day.

Andrea Vargas of Costa Rica chased Williams into second in 12.68 seconds, with Annimari Korte of Finland getting third in 12.97 seconds, ahead of Luca Kozak of Hungary in fourth place in 13.00 seconds.

Williams, the Diamond League winner, was pleased with her run as she hunts her second IAAF World Athletics Championships gold, following her success in 2015.

“It's been a month since I have raced and I was itching to come out and race, and have been complaining why our race was at the back end of the championships. It's pretty much over and we are just getting started,” said Williams.

“But I am happy to come out here and get the first round out of the way. We just have to keep practising and keep focus on the task,” she noted.

But just before Williams ran, American Brianna McNeal was disqualified for false-starting in heat two, and the big screen television showed her reaction.

“Definitely when I saw it I was saying to myself and the other girls, 'Just wait on the gun; it doesn't matter if you have a slow reaction time. Just wait on the gun and try to get through to the heats as safely as possible,'” she explained.

Williams was herself embroiled in controversy at Jamaica's championships, after being disqualified for the same offence.

“I definitely feel for her because we work so hard to get here and to come at the championships and be charged with a false start, I know it has to be really tough on her,” Williams said.

That heat included Jamaica's Yanique Thompson who placed second in 12.85 seconds (0.2 m/s). Luminosa Bogliolo of Italy won in 12.80 seconds, with Anne Zagre of Belgium finishing third in 12.91 seconds.

“I didn't think it was a good race technically, but the fact that I made it through to the next round,that's a plus, so I am grateful,” she said.

“Hopefully I can get a better start, really. I usually don't have a good start but I have been working on it; but due to the false start that happened in the race I just tried to keep myself focused and see if I could get to the first hurdle as quick as I can and maintain my form through,” Thompson explained.

The diminutive Megan Tapper was first up in heat one, and she was fairly comfortable in finishing second in 12.78 seconds (0.3 m/s) behind American Nia Ali who won in 12.59 seconds. Cindy Ofili of Germany was third in 12.97 seconds.

Tapper said she did not execute properly and she intends to go hard in the next round and correct her mistakes.

“I am happy to have gotten the cobwebs off, and hopefully I can pull something better in the semis. I have to go back, recuperate and come again and, God willing, something will get me into the final,” said Tapper.

Collegiate champion Janeek Brown was the last Jamaican in action, and she looked good despite finishing second in 12.61 seconds (0.2 m/s). Nigeria's Tobi Amusan won in the fastest race of the day in a personal best of 12.48 seconds. Nadine Visser of the Netherlands was third with 12.75 seconds.

Brown, who established her personal best of 12.40 seconds earlier this year while setting a national record during the collegiate championships, said it has been hard work peaking twice in the season.

“It is very difficult, but I feel like my coach knows what he's doing. I just need to provide the mental part of it and just trust him, trust the process, trust the training, and I have done that. So, I think I am in good shape to peak once more and get it over with,” Brown told the Jamaica Observer.

“It wasn't perfectly executed, of course, and I think that is because I haven't ran in six weeks so this was basically like a blowout race. And I feel satisfied to blowout 12.61 and to make adjustment in the future, so I am OK with it.”

Meanwhile, American World record holder Kendra Harrison won heat four in 12.55 seconds and looked good ahead of Germany's Cindy Roleder in 12.76 seconds. Elvira Herman of Belarus was third in 12.84 seconds.