Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Jamaica Expects More Gold

Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images

by Teswayne Harris

Despite a few setbacks at the Beijing Olympics, Jamaica is still poised to grab a record medal haul. So far, the world has not seen the best of the Jamaicans who will certainly dominate the men and women 4x100m relays with the likes of Usian Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser, the 100m champions.

Former world record holder Asafa Powell was expected to earn a medal in the 100m sprint. But that did not happen; he choked again! Neither did 100m hurdles medal favorite, Delloreen Ennis-London who ran a good race, kept close to the leaders, but was unable to surge among the top three at the end of the race.

Who would have imagined that the three Jamaican girls who qualified for the 100m at the Jamaica trials, would have all medaled in the 100m.

And who would have thought that Shericka Williams, the third place finisher at the Jamaica trials, would have=2 0cleverly saved her speed for the last 100m in the 400m finals to earned a silver. Shericka could have caught Christine Uhurougu of Britain, the eventual winner, if the race had been longer. Nonetheless, her silver makes up for Ennis-London's failure to medal.

Jamaica's medal tall now stands at five with 2 golds and 3 silver.

So what’s next for Jamaica in the medal count

Today Bolt goes for gold and Michael Johnson’s record in the 200m. Johnson’s world and Olympic record of 19.32 set in Atlanta in 1996 is certainly within Bolt’s potential, but as we are learning from this Olympics, Bolt won’t run to his full potential unless he has serious and gold medal-threatening competition. He will need to go at full speed, without slowing down, to break the record.

His main challenger is defending Olympic champion, American Shawn Crawford. Crawford has not run close to Bolt’s season's best of 19.67. If their semifinal heat was any indication, then Bolt will have to run, instead of jog, to become the first man since Carl Lewis to win the Olympic sprint double.

Veronica Campbell-Brown is also poised to run for gold20in the 200m. When she did not qualify for the 100m at the Jamaica trials, she came back in the 200m with a scorching personal best of 21.94, which is the fastest time this year.

Seeing the impressive sweep by her compatriots in the 100m is enough motivation for Campbell who was a double gold medalist at the previous Olympics in Athens. She should hold off her countrywoman Kerron Stewart and American Allyson Felix to defend her 200m Olympic title giving Jamaica another gold.

It would be somewhat surprising if Felix does not medal and there is a Jamaican sweep. But as the Jamaican women showed us the 100m, anything is possible. Stewart has the second best time of the year, 21.99, and teammate Sherone Simpson ran the fastest quarter-final time going into tomorrow's semi-final.

Jamaica is also banking on 400m hurdler Melaine Walker who has the season's best time of 53.48 entering tomorrow's final to secure another gold medal.

But nothing in the Olympics is guaranteed. Hard work can lead to success, and God helps those who help themselves.

Bolt broke the 100m record wi th one of shoelaces untied; Shelly-Ann got a good start, never looked back and the rest is history; Shericka saved her energy for the end and came from nowhere to earn a silver medal.

With two golds and three silver medals, who would have thought that Jamaica might leave this Olympics with more golds than silver and bronze combined.

It just shows that we, as Jamaicans, are more than talented; we are blessed.

Every Jamaican is potentially a great Jamaican.

Bonita Jamaica
Beautiful Place. Amazing People.

See you in Jamaica.


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