Jamaica's field event hopefuls enter the World Champs fray

HOWARD WALKER
AT THE 17TH IAAF WORLD
ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIPS
In DOHA, QATAR

Thursday, October 03, 2019

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DOHA, Qatar — Jamaica's triple jumpers Shanieka Ricketts and Kimberly Williams, along with shot put thrower O'Dayne Richards will make their debuts today at the 17th staging of the IAAF World Championships here inside Khalifa International Stadium.

Ricketts, who won the Diamond League with a personal best of 14.93m, is fancied for a medal in what promises to be an epic triple jump final. Defending champion Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela and Caterine Ibarguen of Colombia are expected to feature prominently.

Rojas is the world leader, with a massive 15.41 metres, which is just shy of the 15.50m world record held by Inessa Kravets of Ukraine since 1995. Ricketts has the second-best performance of 14.93m and Ibarguen third with 14.89. Cuba's Liadagmis Povea sits fourth with a leap of 14.77, setting the stage for an epic battle for the medals.

Ricketts, who is in the form of her life, told the Jamaica Observer that the 2019 season has been fantastic, and that technically things have been coming together well for her.

“The last world championships I was eighth in the finals and so this time around the aim is to go out there and do my best and hopefully my best will be awarded with a medal for myself and Jamaica,” said Ricketts.

“The goal is to produce a great performance, especially on the phases of the jump where we have been working on. I would be happy with another personal best, while hoping it would be good enough for a medal,” she explained.

“Tajay Gayle kicked things off for us at the championships with a fantastic national record and world lead performance to take gold. The magnitude of this achievement could be felt and seen, as I know what this means for, not just us the athletes, but for all sports-loving Jamaican fans. I am indeed elated and this also gives me an extra spur getting ready for my competition,” she added.

Not to be overlooked is Jamaica's 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games champion Williams, who won silver at the World Indoor championship last year.

Ranked seventh in the world, with a seasonal best of 14.56m — the ninth-best jump this year — Williams is an experienced campaigner and could snatch a surprise medal despite not having her best season.

Williams, who was fourth in 2013, fifth in 2015 and 19th in 2017, will be aiming to turn things around when it matters most.

Richards, who won shot put bronze in 2015, will be hoping to get back on the podium when he bows into action at 11:20 am (Jamaica time).

Richards, Jamaica's finest shot putter in history, has not had the best of build-ups. An inconsistent season has seen him accomplish a best of 20.93 metres. Richards, who is ranked 13th in the world, has the 17th best throw of 20.93m could find things difficult. His personal best is 21.96m and he will likely have to surpass that distance if he is to medal.

The current batch of throwers make up one of the best shot put fields assembled, with nine men recording distances of over 22 metres. Only four men in the history of the event have won with throws beyond 22m.

Defending champion Tomas Walsh of New Zealand, along with American Ryan Crouser and Brazilian Darlan Romani, are the favourites for the medals.


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