SPRINT CLASH!
Fierce battle for Jamaica’s women’s 100m World Championships places
(L-R) BrianaWilliams, ElaineThompson-Herah and SherickaJackson. (Photo:Observer file)

WHETHER it was intended or not, Saturday’s 10.67 seconds run by defending World Champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the 100m at the Paris Diamond League meeting at Stade Charlety sent a message she has no intention of letting her national title go this coming weekend or at the World Championships next month at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

The women’s sprints, particularly the 100m, promises to be the most exciting event at the four-day national championships which starts on Thursday and which will be used to select the Jamaican teams for the World Championships and the Commonwealth Games set for Birmingham in August.

With Fraser-Pryce holding a wild card as the defending champion, Jamaica will have four women in the 100m at the World Championships to be held between July 15 and 24.

If all goes well and there are no major upsets between the first round and the semi-finals, the women’s 100m final on Friday at 8:40 pm could feature six women who have already run sub-11 seconds this year, not to mention the possibility of others going under the barrier as well.

Fraser-Pryce, two-time Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah, Olympic bronze medallist Shericka Jackson, Kevona Davis, Natalliah Whyte, Briana Williams and Kemba Nelson have all gone under 11 seconds.

Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce holds a wild card entry to the World Championships as the defending 100m champion.

Fraser-Pryce leads the pack with two 10.67-second clockings in both her 100m races this season, but she is not obligated to take part in the event given she has the wild card as the defending champion. But conventional wisdom could dictate that just two 100m races would not be sufficient preparation for the World Championships.

Additionally, running the rounds here this weekend could also give Fraser-Pryce and her handler a good idea of where they are in terms of readiness for Eugene.

At age 35, Fraser-Pryce has shown no signs of slowing down and last weekend joked in Paris about Merlene Ottey running fast late in her 30s.

“Mommy Rocket” has run 24 times under 10.80 seconds, the most by any woman, but in Thompson-Herah, younger by about five years, there is a worthy heir for the throne and one who has shown her undoubted pedigree with the second-fastest time ever, 10.54 seconds, which crowned a magical 2021 season during which she swept all before her when it mattered most.

A silver medal in the 200m in Beijing, China in 2015 is the only individual World Championships medal of which Thompson-Herah can boast. She has fourth and fifth places in two 100m final appearances and has not been shy about her desire to “taste a piece of the gold medal”.

The three races between Thursday and Friday will be to select three others to accompany Fraser-Pryce, and if the form holds and Thompson-Herah and Jackson pencil their names on the list then the races will be to select just one more plus the relay alternatives.

But track and field, like all other sports, is not competed for on paper, as the saying goes, and no doubt the likes of Briana Williams, Nelson, the resurgent White and Davis, if she can produce back-to-back quality races, could all put their hands up for that other place.

Jamaica’s former St Jago High standout Natalliah Whyte
BY PAUL A REID Observer writer reidp@jamaicaobserver.com

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