Jamaica snare 7 medals on last day to end with 11 at World Under-20 ChampsMonday, August 23, 2021
BY DWAYNE RICHARDS
DUBBED the Route to Roots by the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), the island's best junior athletes did the nation proud with another impressive performance at the World Athletics Under-20 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya.
They added seven medals yesterday to the four won over the previous four days of the championships to bring the tally to 11 medals, just one shy of the total earned at the last championships in Tampere, Finland, in 2018.
The team earned seven medals from the nine finals contested yesterday.
The highlight of the day for Jamaica was the performance of the women's 4x100m relay team as they set a world record on their way to landing the gold medal.
The quartet of Serena Cole, Tina Clayton, Kerrica Hill and Tia Clayton ran a sparkling 42.94 seconds to turn back the challenge of Namibia who boasted the top two medallists from the 200m in Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masalingi.
Namibia were nine metres behind Jamaica in second place in 43.76 seconds while Nigeria, who boasted the pair of Praise Ofoku and Favour Ofili on their team, were third in 43.80 seconds.
The win by the women in the 4x100m was the beginning of a strong finish to the championships as Jamaica bagged three silver medals from the other three relays contested.
Following on the record-breaking performance of the women, the men won silver in 38.61 seconds when they finished behind record-breakers South Africa who took the gold medal in 38.51 seconds. Poland were third in 38.90 seconds.
It was a very exciting race with Jamaica, Nigeria and South Africa all just about even going into the final exchange. South Africa took advantage of being on the inside in lane three and hit the homestretch in front, while Nigeria had a nightmare on the final exchange where the baton fell.
South Africa were ahead with 80 metres to go and, despite the best efforts of Sandrey Davison on anchor who was able to close the gap, it proved to be too much to overcome in the end as Jamaica had to settle for silver.
Jamaica led the women's 4x400m relay final for 750 metres before the class of the 400m champion, Imaobong Nse Uko, told when she passed Aalliyah Francis just before the second handover, giving her team the lead that they would hold until the end. Alliah Baker, who ran on the mixed relay team, and Deana Dyer both did enough to ensure that third-place Italy didn't bump them out of second spot.
The final event of the championships, the men's 4x400m relay, proved to be a race of courage by the Jamaicans.
Malachi Johnson gave Jamaica a strong start but that was bettered by Joshua Wanyonyi of Kenya, which left Jeremy Bembridge with some work to do as Jamaica was in sixth place when he came off the first turn. Bembridge made up a lot of ground on the backstretch but ran out of steam coming home and handed the baton over in fourth place, though with reduced distance between the teams that were ahead.
Tahj Hamm used his relay running experience to take Jamaica into second place, after emerging from the exchange zone behind Botswana who had surged to the front at the end of the second leg. He handed over to Team Captain Devontie Archer who gave it everything he had to overtake Phenyo Majama on anchor leg for Botswana but with 1200m already in his legs from securing bronze in the 400m hurdles, there just wasn't enough left to overhaul the leader. Sufficient strength remained, though, to hold off the fast-finishing Peter Kithome who, for a moment, threatened to take his team into second.
But even before Jamaica was winning relay medals, young Jaydon Hibbert — who was the first Jamaican athlete to perform on the day — was creating history when he became the first from his nation to win a medal in the triple jump at the U-20 level.
It took Hibbert just two jumps to secure the silver medal when he produced a lifetime best of 16.05m to move into second position behind Gabriel Wallmark of Sweden who led with 15.91m from the first jump. He subsequently increased his lead twice, his best of 16.43m coming on his fourth effort. Simon Gore of France was third with a best of 15.85m, which came on his second attempt.
Devontie Archer claimed his first of two medals at the championships, shortly after Hibbert secured his silver.
The men's 400m hurdles final produced one of the most exciting finishes outside of the relays as four athletes chased three medals.
Merke Akcam of Turkey, Oskar Edlund of Sweden and Archer cleared the penultimate hurdle at virtually the same time but with the Turk slightly ahead, with Denis Novoseltsev (an Authorized Neutral Athlete) a few steps behind them.
Archer, whose form had been ragged over the last three hurdles before the final barrier, clattered straight into the hurdle and lost his momentum as Novoseltsev surged into third place. Meanwhile, Edlund was winning the footrace against Akcam and crossed the line in first place.
Edlund's victory was short-lived however, as he was soon after disqualified for a trailing leg violation which meant that Akcam was promoted to gold, Novoseltsev to silver and Archer to bronze.
Ralford Mullings was the other medal winner on day five for Jamaica as things went to the form book for the top two in the men's discus. Mykolas Alekna of Lithuania won gold with a championships record of 69.81m, while Mullings won silver with a personal best 66.68m. Raman Khartanovich of Belarus won bronze with a personal best 62.19m.
Jamaica failed to medal in only two of the nine finals they contested yesterday.
Shantae Foreman missed out on a medal in the women's long jump by just three centimetres as her personal best effort of 6.47m was just behind the bronze medal winner Mariia Horielova, whose new personal best of 6.50m was enough to get her onto the podium.
Girl's Captain Garriel White failed to show for the women's 400m hurdles final despite being a heavy medal favourite, which left Moseiha Bridgen to battle alone for a medal for Jamaica. Bridgen gave it a valiant effort running out of lane eight but as the lactic acid began to build up in her legs, she hit the final three hurdles and fell out of contention, eventually finishing in seventh place.
Heidi Salminen of Finland won gold in 56.94 seconds, Ludivine Aubert of France took silver in 57.16 seconds, while Savannah Sutherland of Canada took the bronze in 57.27 seconds.
When contacted by the Jamaica Observer about the reason behind White's no-show in the final, a member of the coaching staff would only say it was because of “medical issues”. It is suspected that a number of the Jamaican team members tested positive for COVID-19, but no one was willing to confirm or deny the reports.