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Jamaican team off to training camp ahead of World Champs

By Howard Walker
Senior staff reporter
walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

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President of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), Dr Warren Blake, is expecting a good all-round display from the team following the departure of some members yesterday for the training camp at Aspire Academy in Qatar.

Jamaica are coming off a below-par performance where they garnered just four medals, including one gold courtesy of Omar McLeod in the 110m hurdles. It was a far cry from their best medal haul of 13 in 2009, inclusive of seven gold.

It will be the first time in 12 years that Jamaica will be entering a World Championships without the incomparable Usain Bolt, who retired after the 2017 event in London, and the medal tally has been paltry, at best, especially on the men's side.

“I usually don't do a medal count, but I am fairly hopeful that we will do significantly better than the last World Championships,” Dr Blake told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

“Right now everything looks quite better. We have a number of persons who are world leaders. We have a defending champion in the hurdles. We have Diamond League winners. We have people who have come third in the Diamond League, so we are really hopeful that we will be more among the medals than the last time,” he reiterated.

“Granted so saying, the last time we had expected to do much better, but there were a few unexplained problems and some injuries and illnesses that really played against us. But I am hoping that lightning won't strike the same place twice and we will do much better,” Dr Blake added.

Jamaica named a 55-member team to the 17th edition of the IAAF World Championships headed by reigning Olympic sprint double champion Elaine Thompson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who has won three World 100m titles in 2009, 2013, and 2015. Sprint hurdler Omar McLeod, discus king Fredrick Dacres, Diamond League winners, triple jumper Shanieka Ricketts and Danielle Williams in the sprint hurdles, along with long jumper Tajay Gayle and shot putters ODayne Richards and Danniel Thomas-Dodd make this Jamaican team a most balanced one.

“It's a more rounded team and it shows that Jamaica's track and field has matured a bit whilst we are not just a team with sprinters, but we are a team that also has people that are good in the field events,” Dr Blake emphasised.

“We have long jumper Tajay Gayle and he is amongst the top three jumpers in the world and on his day he could win the event. We have triple jumpers — one of the leading triple jumpers and the other is expected to at least be in the final. Look at the discus...we have three very good discus throwers and they will equip themselves quite well at the championships,” said Dr Blake.

“I am expecting a smooth championships and I am expecting also that most of our athletes will also come to the camp based on the itineraries that we have.

“It is important for them individually to come and get acclimatised to the temperature and conditions in Qatar and also important in building team morale and team spirit and get in that well-needed relay practice,” said Dr Blake.

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