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Experts predict double-digit medal count for Jamaica in Tokyo

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Though accepting an apparent weakness of the men's side, a few athletics experts contacted by the Jamaica Observer have predicted a double-digit medal haul for Jamaica at the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games now under way in Japan.

Veteran SportsMax broadcaster Lance Whittaker, who has covered a number of global athletics competitions, believes Jamaica could garner as many as 12 medals to equal the record tally attained in 2012 in London (four gold, five silver and three bronze); veteran journalist Earl Bailey, who has also covered numerous global athletics events, sees Jamaica bagging 11 medals, while senior sports journalist Paul Reid, who covered the London 2012 Olympics for this newspaper, is banking on between 12 to 14 medals.

Here's Whittaker's take:

“The last three Olympics we had 11, 12 and 11 medals. I am suspecting that the numbers are going to be kind of similar. I'm looking at 12 medals for Jamaica at these Games. The least assured ones for me of the 12 that I have listed here Goule (Natoya) in the 800m women and Levy (Ronald) in the sprint hurdles (110m), but I think they have a shot at medals, so I have them included.

“The strength of the team is in the women's sprinting, as you would expect. It's really tremendous from 100, 200 and even the in the 400 with McPherson (Stephenie-Ann). The weakness is the men's side relative to what we have had since Beijing. The men are really not up to par at the moment and I don't see any medals for the men (on the track). Unfortunately for Fedrick Dacres, who would have been a medal contender for me, all things being equal, he's had some injury issues so it's kind of tight for him, so it makes our throwing strength that we had started to show a little bit hurt by that so I don't have him medalling, but I actually have one, two, three for the women's hundred. The problem with the 200 is that we are not sure what Miller-Uibo (Shaunae) is going to do because if she runs the 200, it will pretty certainly take something away from our possibilities there.

“I believe she is going to run the 200, so because Gabby Thomas, the American girl who ran 21.61, and I think Miller-Uibo is a sure medallist if she runs, that would leave us with just one medal in the women's 200 and I'm not even sure who would get it — Thompson-Herah (Elaine), Fraser-Pryce (Shelly-Ann) or Jackson (Shericka). All of them could win a medal.

“I have McPherson medalling in the 400, Shanieka Ricketts medalling in the triple jump, medals too for the women's sprint relay and 4x400. Tajay Gayle in the long jump and mixed relay should medal as well.

“Of the 12 medals that I have, three are three gold, two of them fairly confidently, the women's 100, Fraser-Pryce to me is favourite, the women's sprint relay as well. The sprint relay is not something you can bank on because you know the complexities of the baton changes and so on, and I would just hope that our girls go in with some harmony because, from my experience, if you have a lack of harmony in the set-up it affects the synergy and the chemistry in the team and things can go wrong.

“I have Gayle winning gold in the long jump but I know they said he had a bit of a knee problem and he hasn't been jumping all that well, but I have a lot of confidence in MVP preparing athletes for big occasions, so I'm going to stick my neck out and put him as a gold medallist in the long jump. He's number 10 in the world in the event all time and none of the nine people who are ahead of him are still competing.

“I know he hasn't been looking like an Olympic champion in recent months, but I'm hoping that he can get things right because there is a certain composure, there is something about his calmness under pressure that I like,” concluded Whittaker.

 

The Montego Bay-based Reid commented as follows:

“I think all our medals will come from track and field. I see 12 medals but I wouldn't be shocked to see 13, 14, 15.

Female 100m, Elaine Thompson-Herah. I think she came to the National Trials just to qualify as she was still hurting from the injury, so she did just enough to get on the team and once she is on the team she will be alright. I noticed that since she has been overseas she has looked very comfortable, she's won and ran very well both in the 100m and the 200m, beaten Fraser-Pryce in Hungary and she's looked very comfortable.

“Stephen Francis (MVP coach) is a genius and I have no doubt that he will get his athlete ready for that race. Fraser-Pryce should be second in this race, 10.63 seconds earlier in the year is nothing to sneeze at and she's been consistent. When she was in Jamaica she was running very, very fast and in control. She has not looked that sharp since she has been overseas, maybe she's been working on other phases (of her race) or she's been loaded, I don't know, but I see her getting a silver here and Jackson getting a bronze.

“Jackson's 10.77 was not a fluke; I think she has that speed. We've seen that speed from Vere Technical and her combination of raw speed and her 400m power will make the difference for her to win the 200m. I think she is going to shock a lot a people and win the 200m. Shelly will be there or thereabout and I give her a bronze here (200m) because you have Miller-Uibo coming in, so I see a medal there or maybe two.

“In the 400m Stephanie Ann McPherson, she has increased her speed in the 200m this year and now she is not wobbling so badly at the end of her races, now she is more in control at the end of her 400m races and she has been consistent. She ran under 50secs three times straight and I think she's ready to get an individual medal at the Olympics.

“In the triple jump, Ricketts I think has the second place locked. She should go over 15m and could threaten the National record.

The female 4x100m, it looks like a world record. My only concern is that the top three sprinters will have to run six races before they come to the relays and one or two of them might have to run the first round of the relay and that's a whole lot of work because we only have two others in the relay pool.

In the 4x400m I think the Americans are suspect, they have shown weaknesses in the 400m and I think we are safe for a silver medal, but would not be surprised if we won gold.

“There is a wildcard here, Natoya Goule for a bronze in the 800m, that's if she doesn't allow them to box her in as they normally do on the backstretch and if she can get out of that crowd, she could get a bronze there and the National record as well. It's possible.

The men's side is scanty, I think the best chance of a medal is in the long jump, a silver, as it is going to be very tough to beat Echevarria (Juan Miguel), to be honest, that's my favourite to win the gold, and the nature of the event is that one jump is all that they need and not like this stupid format they use in the Diamond League.

“The men's 4x100 team is going to medal once they concentrate. Blake (Yohan) runs the 100, 200m, we have enough depth, cause I don't see Tyquendo (Tracey) making the final, so he will be well rested and I don't see any of the others progressing to finals, so I can see us winning a medal in the 4x100m.

“Dacres (Fedrick) in the discus, he is coming along, injuries set him back a little bit, but he can get back to where he used to be and I see him throwing 70m or more, because that's what you need to throw to be in the medal frame.

“Some people who could step up otherwise are Thomas-Dodd (Danniel) in the shot put, but she has been off this year, a good half metre off from others, so between 12 to 14 medals is my prediction.”

 

For Bailey, it's a golden sweep of MVP athletes in the women's 100m, 200m and 400m, and the women's 4x100m relay.

He chooses Fraser-Pryce to cop silver in the 100m, and Thompson-Herah to get bronze in the 200m. Ricketts to gain a medal in the triple jump with the women's 4x400m securing a silver, and the mixed relay team gaining a bronze, as should be the case in the men's long jump and 4x400m.

“I pick Elaine to win because MVP knows how to get female athletes to peak at exactly the right time. Elaine's 10.71 earlier this month says she is ready,” he concluded.