Velocity Fest hailed as providing 'world-class' environment for action-starved athletes


Velocity Fest hailed as providing 'world-class' environment for action-starved athletes

Observer writer

Sunday, August 02, 2020

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LOCALLY based Jamaican athletes made full use of the trio of Velocity Fest meets held at Ashenheim Stadium at Jamaica College last month by the MVP Track and Field Club, with a number of outstanding performances on show during the COVID-19-affected 2020 track and field season.

The meets, which were held under strict COVID-19 protocols, were the first track and field events held in Jamaica since early March when the island recorded its first coronavirus case, after which sporting events were put on hold.

Bruce James, president of the MVP Track and Field Club and meet director for the series, selected a number of performances which he said made the series worthwhile.

The meets were held behind closed doors, without spectators or media.

“Providing a world-class environment here in Jamaica for these athletes [who waited four months to compete] was critical, as international travel for meets is still uncertain,” said James.

He said being able to host the meets was “a personal highlight”, given they were held “under strict COVID-19 protocols, with immediate live results and videos of each race online within minutes”.

“Achieving this outside of the National Stadium [was done] with only a small fraction of the normal amount of officials; no number bibs, no call room, no ISP [Internet serviceprovider], no paper, no entry fees, no sponsors, no income; and plenty expenses,” James noted.

World Championships 100m winner Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, double Olympic sprint champion Elaine Thompson-Herah and Julian Forte highlighted the series in the sprints, while Bahamian Anthonique Strachan also ran her fastest 200m time in five years.

Fraser-Pryce ran a then world-leading 11.00 seconds into a headwind of negative 2.2 m/s — a time that James said would adjust to 10.83 seconds with 0.0m/s wind — while she also clocked 22.74 seconds (-0.9m/s) in the 200m.

Thompson-Herah was unfortunate as her run of 10.73 (+3.0) seconds in the third meet held last weekend was pushed by a tailwind but would only adjust to a 10.89 seconds with zero wind, James shared.

Strachan, the World Under-20 sprint double champion in 2012 in Barcelona, Spain, set the meet record 22.72 (+2.0), her fastest 200m since 2015, while World Championship 400m medallist Shericka Jackson clocked what was described as an “effortless” 22.89 seconds (-2.2).

Tajay Gayle, Jamaica's first long jump World champion, had a wind-aided 8.52m (+4.5m/s) jump but also got a win legal 8.23m (1.6.m/s) which took him to fifth in the world so far this year.

Hurdles specialist Janieve Russell's 51.67 seconds in the 400m makes her the fastest Jamaican so far for 2020. She also ran 55.40 seconds in the 400m hurdles during which she had two close battles with Ronda Whyte, who ran 55.40 seconds to be the fastest Jamaican over the intermediate hurdles so far for 2020.

Forte just missed his first sub-10-second clocking in the men's 100m since 2017 by the slimmest margins, after his 9.96 seconds last weekend was spoiled by a +2.1m/s wind, just over the allowable limit of 2.0m/s.

He had also run 10.03 seconds (+0.3) in the first staging, his legal fastest in three years.

World Championships bronze medallist Nesta Carter ran his fastest time in two years when he posted 10.18 seconds (1.6m/s) in the final meet in the series.

Petersfield High schoolboy Antonio Watson, the World Under-18 400m champion in 2017, and former Muschett High runner Romario Williams both showed marked improvements each week in the men's 100m.

Watson ran 10.70 seconds (-2.6) the first weekend, and 10.54 seconds (-0.8) the second weekend before his personal best of 0.39 seconds (+1.7) last weekend.

Williams, who is at G C Foster and has a personal best 10.24 seconds, started with 10.39 seconds (-1.4) on the first weekend, then improved that to 10.33 seconds (-0.3) before his 10.19 seconds (+2.1) in the race that included Forte.

Nineteen-year-old Rasheed Broadbell is the fastest Jamaican man over the 110m hurdles and fifth in the world following his run of 13.47 seconds (-0.4), almost all by himself, after his sole competitor failed to finish the race on the first weekend.

It was his first race over the Olympic height hurdles.

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