Early Eugene qualifiers will be busy at ‘Trials’
World 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has confirmed she will contest the 200m at the JAAA National Senior and Junior Championships that gets underway today at the National Stadium. (Photo: Observer file)

WHILE the competition for spots on the Jamaican teams to the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, in July and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, UK, in August over the next four days will be tough, a handful of Jamaican athletes could have made their travel plans ahead of the weekend’s event at the National Stadium.

Defending champions, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the women’s 100m and Tajay Gayle in the men’s long jump, as well as 800m runners Natoya Goule-Toppin and Navasky Anderson and high jumper Lamara Distin, need only to show up, having all but ensured their participation.

Champions from the previous World Championships are given a wild card entry while, in the case of the others, it is unlikely three persons will beat them and make the qualifying marks reslting in them being be left out.

Fraser-Pryce, the world leader in the women’s 100m just as she was last year at this time, and Gayle are both down to contest their ‘pet’ events; they are also set to contest a second event as well.

While there is a wait to see if “Mommy Rocket” will line up in the 100m, she has confirmed her participation in the 200m — setting up another thriller against Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah and Shericka Jackson in Sunday’s final should all three advance that far.

Gayle is down to run the men’s 100m as well and will be in action on at least three of the four days of the championships.

He could have company in the long jump as double NCAA champion Wayne Pinnock is yet to make the qualifying mark of 8.22m but is ranked 31st in the world and could be included in the field based on his world ranking.

Goule, the long-time flag bearer in the middle distance, achieved the qualifying mark 11 months ago on her way to the finals of the 800m at the Olympics in Tokyo.

She should win her ninth national title on Sunday’s final day of the championships but should be joined on the plane by former 400m runner Chrisann Gordon-Powell, who is just two-hundredths of a second off the qualifying mark of 1:59.50 seconds after she ran 1:59.52 seconds in her first season contesting the event.

Distin and Anderson both broke national records while competing in the NCAA for their respective college teams this year and will be making their debut on the senior international stage later this year.

Distin, who broke both the indoor and outdoor records, is ranked number three in the world with her personal best 1.97m, with Kimberly Williamson just off the qualifying mark of 1.96m after clearing 1.93m — her lifetime best — last month.

Anderson smashed Seymour Newman’s 45-year-old national record after he ran 1:45.02 seconds for second place in the men’s 800m at the NCAA championships two weeks ago, and unless there is a near miracle will most likely be the only Jamaican in the event in Eugene.

The qualifying time for the World Championships is 1:45.20 seconds and the next best Jamaican is Rajay Hamilton with 1:46.16 seconds, followed by Kimar Farquharson (1:46.88 minues), Jamaica College schoolboy J’Voughnn Blake (1:47.34) and Tarees Rhoden (1:47.43)s.

— Paul Reid

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