A track and field season for the ages
Second-placed Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (left), third-placed Ivory Coast's Marie-Josee Ta Lou and winner Jamaican Shericka Jackson (right) compete in the women's 100m event during the IAAF Diamond League "Memorial Van Damme" athletics meeting at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels on Friday. (Photo: AFP)

With the professional track and field season almost at an end, we believe we can safely say it was among Jamaica's most successful ever, especially for our women.

For sure, it was among the most crowded seasons on record.

The July/August period was packed, starting with the 2022 World Championships in Eugene, Oregon, at which Jamaica won two gold medals, seven silver, and a bronze to place third in the standings. This, despite the odd mishap such as a freak accident which kept Olympic Gold medallist Mr Hansle Parchment out of the 110-metre hurdles final.

Shortly after the World Championships end in late July, there was the World Athletics Under-20 Championships in Cali, Colombia, at which fledgling Jamaican athletes won 16 medals including six gold. It was hailed as this country's best-ever performance at a World Championship at any level.

The Jamaica women's 4x100m relay team of (from left) Elaine Thompson-Herah, Natalliah Whyte, Kemba Nelson and Remona Burchell celebrate the bronze medal finish at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games . (Photo: Naphtali Junior)

Concurrently with the age-group event in Cali, was the multi-sport Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. While a few elite Jamaican athletes took a break, the lion-hearted, two-time double-Olympic gold medallist Mrs Elaine Thompson-Herah went to Birmingham and did well, leading a group of younger, lesser known names underlining the depth of available talent.

We would be remiss not to mention that Jamaica's netballers stole hearts at the Commonwealth Games with a number of exhilarating performances. They exceeded expectations by taking the silver medal after coming close to overcoming the mighty Australians in the gold medal contest.

For those track and field athletes eager to represent Jamaica, there was more required of them in short order.

Jamaican athletes won 24 medals, including six gold with five championship records at the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association Open at the Grand Bahama Sports Complex in Freeport, The Bahamas.

Coach Mr Paul Francis was elated at the performance in The Bahamas which he described as "nothing short of excellent". A "nine out of 10" was how he scored the athletes. "It was not perfect but it was an excellent performance by the people chosen to represent Team Jamaica," he said.

Since then, we have seen a succession of professional Diamond League events with compelling performances from not just established stars such as Mrs Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Miss Shericka Jackson but from those up and coming, not least sprint hurdler Mr Rasheed Broadbell.

Intriguingly, Mr Francis suggested that the crowded athletic schedule was a boost for some.

"They [athletes] have more competitive opportunities to show what they can do, or to make up, if they did not do as well as they would have liked in a previous event," he told this newspaper.

Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce celebrates after victory in the women's 100m final during the Diamond League athletics meeting at Stadion Letzigrund stadium in Zurich on September 8, 2022. (Photo: AFP)

It seems fitting that the extraordinary Mrs Fraser-Pryce, who at age 35 was having among her best seasons ever, ended with a fabulous 10.65 seconds clocking in her pet 100 metres at the Weltklasse Zurich Diamond League meet. This was her seventh sub-10.70 seconds clocking this season, to win her fourth 100m diamond trophy and fifth overall the other being the 200 metres.

As we marvel, we also wonder: What more will this great Jamaican achieve on the track before she walks away from competition?

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