Jamaica eye more medals today

Observer writer

Thursday, July 12, 2018

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TAMPERE, Finland — Jamaica's joint World Junior Record holder in the 110m hurdles Damion Thomas has one aim on today's third day of the IAAF World Under-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland.

“I am going for the gold.”

As many as five Jamaicans could contest finals today, three have been confirmed with the possibility of two more, depending on the results of the semi-finals of the women's 100m.

Thomas and Orlando Bennett both qualified for the sprint hurdles final, Stacey-Ann Williams will contest the women's 400m final, while Briana Williams and Okera Myrie advanced to the semi-finals of the women's 100m.

Also yesterday, four other Jamaicans advanced to the second round of their events, led by Christopher Taylor and Chantz Sawyers in the men's 400m and intermediate hurdlers Shiann Salmon and Sanique Walker also made progress.

It was, however, the end of the road for the 800m runners as Shaquena Foote ran a gutsy 2:08.02 minutes for sixth in her semi-final heat despite a sore hamstring, while Chrissani May clocked 2:10.7 for eighth in her semi-final.

Despite finishing second in his semi-final heat in 13.37 seconds (1.4m/s) behind Great Britain's Jason Nicholson, who ran a lifetime best 13.32 seconds, Thomas was upbeat and full of confidence.

“I felt way better than the prelims, way better, so come tomorrow (today) I am just going for the gold,” he said.

Thomas, who won his first round heat in 13.41 seconds (1.0m/s), was out of the blocks late, but caught the field mid-way the race, and said the slow start was due “probably to some mental stuff”.

“But I got back into the race and pulled forward and he came up to my shoulders, but I finished the race and made it to the final, so that's all that matters,” said the confident Thomas.

Bennett was not that pleased with his race despite winning in 13.45 seconds (0.2m/s).

“I am not that satisfied with the execution, I still have some things to fix up,” he told the Jamaica Observer. “It wasn't as good an execution as in the heats, so I really need to look at that in time for tomorrow (today).”

Bennett, who won with 13.65 seconds (0.9m/s) in the preliminary round said while he was comfortable, he would be talking to his coach to sort out the start and his execution in mid race.

Williams got her first goal of making it to the final as she told reporters earlier in the week that her first aim was making it to the final “as anything can happen from there”.

She had to sweat out the last two semi-finals, however, after placing third in the first race in 53.00 seconds, but ended up with the fifth best time going into the final.

Williams, a relay medallist two years ago in Bydgoszcz, Poland, got off to a fast start and was level with the leaders, but the impressive Hima Das, who is seeking to be India's first gold medal winner in international track and field, won in 52.10 seconds with Andrea Miklos of Romania second in 52.48 seconds.

Briana Williams surprised herself with a fast 11.28 seconds (1.9m/s) to lead the entire field after the first round of the women's 100m, while Myrie was third in her heat in 11.70 seconds (1.8m/s), but was an automatic qualifier for the semi-finals.

The Florida-based Williams told the Observer after her race, “I had no idea that I would run so fast in the first round.”

“I don't know where that came from, I just got out of the blocks fast, I felt good in the race and I just did what my coach told me to do,” she said.

Taylor and Sawyers both won their first-round heats in the men's 400m comfortably. Taylor's 46.14 seconds, was the second fastest of the day behind Barbados' Jonathon Jones' personal best 46.05 seconds with Sawyers' 46.52 seconds the fourth best.

Taylor, who said he did not expect to run as fast as he did, told journalists afterwards: “I am feeling very comfortable given that I did not come here with the mind set to run a 400m race, but I will take it as the race develops in the next round.”

Sawyers was also surprised at how fast he ran and said overall he was in control, and for the semi-finals today “I just need to run my own race and not worry about what the others are doing”.

Salmon, who is expected to battle for the gold medal, had the third best time overall of 58.14 seconds in the 400m hurdles with South African favourite Zeney Van Der Walt leading with 57.78 seconds and Canada's Xahria Santiago next with 58.09 seconds.

Walker, the World Under-18 silver medallist, who was timed in 58.45 seconds, eased up noticeably in her heat after leading off the last hurdle and was passed at the line by American Brooke Jaworski, who ran 58.42 seconds.

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