NATIONAL double sprint champion Shericka Jackson says she is now more technically mature and is eager to make up for her 200m disappointment at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, after posting the third-fastest time in history during a dominant display on Sunday.
Fresh from her world-leading, 21.55-second victory in the 200m final at the National Senior and Junior Championships at the National Stadium on Sunday, Jackson, who will now head into the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, as the favourite for the half-lap event, is looking ahead — with one eye on the not-too-distant past.
At the Tokyo Games last year Jackson, the 100m bronze medal winner at the Games, badly misjudged her 200m heat and failed to progress in the event in which she was expected to challenge for the gold medal at best and at worst, secure a podium spot.
“Despite people probably putting pressure on me, I don’t put pressure on myself because last year [at the Olympics] everybody had it that I would have won the 200m and I didn’t even advance from the heats, so I just want to stay in my zone,” Jackson told the Jamaica Observer.
“I will take a break from social media so as not to let the negative get the best of me, because that is one of the things that I think affected me a lot last year. Because, if you realise, right after the 100m final I went live [on social media] … I think I’ve learned that this year and I’m so grateful that I had to experience something like that at the Olympics to learn this year, honestly,” Jackson shared.
“Really and truly last year was a learning process all around. It was the first I was competing in the sprints and what I’ve learned is just how to run the rounds, don’t run too hard during the rounds, and I think I did pretty well in the 200m semi-finals. I just wanted to be less tired than I was last year because last year I was really, really drained. So, this year I’ve learned a lot and I think I’ve matured a lot. I now know how to run each round and I think that was one of the things that contributed to me running so fast.”
Jackson, who on Friday won the 100m title in 10.77 seconds, was virtually picture-perfect on Sunday. In still wind the powerful sprinter, running out of lane six, beat everyone to the curve before hitting turbo and crushing a field that included double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah, who was second in 22.05, and sprinting great Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce who clocked 22.13 for third place. Natalliah Whyte was fourth in 22.67 seconds.
“I’m just grateful. Honestly, I am shocked; I am very, very shocked at the time. I never expected to go that fast. I know I had something special in my legs but to run that fast, I’m just grateful,” Jackson said.
Only Thompson-Herah’s 21.53 clocking in the final at the Tokyo Olympics and Florence Griffith-Joyner’s World record 21.34 are faster than Jackson’s time, and while the 27-year-old is not losing sleep about potentially breaking the record, she now knows that it is within her reach.
“I have three weeks [to go before the World Championships] and I know my coach [Paul Francis at MVP Track Club] has something up his sleeve, so let’s see,” Jackson smiled.
“Honestly, the world record wasn’t on my mind … once you go out there with a time on your head you might run slower and get disappointed, and it probably gets to your head. I don’t allow that to happen to me. I say focused. My coach knows what’s best and is the person who can say ‘She’s going to run this fast or I expect her to run this fast,’ ” Jackson said before assessing her own performance.
“I wanted to run the curve as hard as possible because coach was like ‘Run the curve. I don’t care what you do after the first 100m.’ So today I just wanted to get out hard because the curve has always been one of my problems; I’m not running the curve hard enough. So I’ve been practising and training and I think I did really, really well on the curve — and I’m just grateful,” said Jackson.