Jamaica go on medal hunt today after yesterday's qualifying rounds

Observer writer

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

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TAMPERE, Finland — Jamaica is expected to start its medal hunt on today's second day of the 16th IAAF World Under-20 Championships at Tampere Stadium, after Wayne Pinnock and Shakwon Coke both qualified for the final of the men's long jump following yesterday's qualifying rounds.

It was a good start for the Jamaican team, with all seven athletes participating on the first day making it past their first round in their respective events.

Despite prediction for rain yesterday it was perfect conditions to kick off the championships, with bright blue skies and hot conditions assisting the athletes.

Pinnock needed just one jump getting out to 7.76m (1.7m/s), the second-best on the day where only two jumpers got over the automatic qualifying mark of 7.60m, while Coke used all three of his jumps (7.55m-0.0m/s) to get into the final with the ninth-best mark.

Jamaican men had the second-and fourth-fastest times in the first round of the 100m as Michael Stephens, who clocked a personal best 10.30 seconds (0.2m/s) and Michael Bentley (10.34 seconds-0.5m/s) both advanced to today's semi-finals in the men's 100m, while both women's 800m runners also made progress to the semi-finals set for today.

Despite aggravating a hamstring injury and having to be led off the track in tears, Shaquena Foote (2: 07.75 and Chrissani May (2:09.88) made sure of their passage to the semi-finals set to be run this afternoon local time.

Quarter-miler Stacey-Ann Williams rounded off the day after she ran a season's best 52.71 seconds to take second in her 400m first round and advanced to today' semi-finals.

There was some drama in the men's long jump as Cuba's Maikel Vidal, the World Junior leader with 8.12m could only manage 7.42m on his third and last jump to take the 12th and final spot, edging out Namibia's Sandro Diergaardt by one centimetre.

The other Cuban Lester Lescay failed to advance, finishing in 15th position with a best mark of 7.36m (2.1m.s).

Pinnock and Coke to an extent avoided the drama and secured their places in today's medal round.

Pinnock needed just the one jump to march into the final and trails only Japan's Yuki Hashioka (7.92m (-1.1m/s) with another Japanese jumper Yugo Sakai in third place with a personal best 7.69m (2.0m/s).

A beaming Pinnock then told the Jamaica Observer he was happy to have advanced with such relative ease after struggling in training here.

“I am proud of myself for this morning... training did not go so well and I had some hitches so it was good for me to qualify with just one jump,” said Pinnock.

There was more to come, he said: “I am looking for that personal best and a medal.”

After fouling a big jump in the first round, Coke got out to a wind-aided 7.51m (2.8m/s) in the second round and then improved it to 7.55m in the final round.

Both Stephens and JAAA National Junior Championships double sprint champion Bentley looked easy in their first-round races and are expected to get through today's semi-finals and into the final set for later today.

Stephens did not get off to the best of start and told the Jamaica Observer that when he checked his position at 60 metres he was in the automatic qualifying spot in third, but despite easing off the gas, still won the race.

“I went into the race with the third-fastest time and I am thankful that I made it to the semi-finals and also got a new personal best,” he said. afterwards lowering his time from 10.32 seconds that he set three weeks ago at the JAAA National Junior Championships.

Asked if he was in top form, Stephens replied: “I would not say top form, but getting a personal best in the first round and jogging is a good sign for me.”

Bentley, who ran a personal best 10.30 seconds at the championships in Kingston, was second in his race behind Great Britain's Chad Miller who ran a personal best 10.32 seconds.

May finished fourth in her 800m heats and got an automatic qualifying spot for the semi-finals, and while Foote was fifth in her race, her time was fast enough to get her into the second round with the 13th best time overall.

“I am feeling great, I am just taking it one step at a time and the first step was getting to the semi-finals hen take it from there,” May said.

Williams, who won a silver medal in the 4x400m relays in 2016 when the championships were held in Poland, is the only Jamaican in the women's 400m and looked in control of the race up to about 90 metres from the line when India's Hima Das who won in 52.25 seconds with Canada's Ashlan Best third in a season's best 53.91 seconds.

Her time was the third fastest of the day with Das leading with American Taylor Manson second with 52.68 seconds.

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