Photo: Javon Francis will be one of the athletes to particiapte for Jamaica in the 400m on the first day of track and field at the 21st staging of the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in Australia.
The highly anticipated track and field section of the 21st staging of the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast in Australia gets going today. Defending Shot Put champion, O’Dayne Richards and 100m World Champion Yohan Blake will be the headline athletes for Jamaica on the fourth day of the championships. Despite participating in 15 events, track and field is where the bulk of Jamaica’s medals are expected to come which will no doubt pull more fans into the Carrara Stadium where track and field is being held.
Richards took gold in Glasgow with a throw of 21.61m and will be hoping to get back to that kind of form, here in Australia. The 29 year old had a couple of warm up meets in New Zealand and managed to throw a season’s best ahead of the championships. He will be hoping to build on that when his preliminary round gets going at 4:35pm.
“My preparation for the games was very good. I had a season’s best of 20.61, my best throw for the year so far. Hopefully I will top that here but I also had a bad meet, which is a sign that I am not necessarily technically sound now. It is still early in the year, still a lot of time left in the season,” Richards stated.
While not 100% confident of retaining his title, the MVP athlete is determined to fight tooth and nail to retain his crown.
“It will be very tough to defend my title having the world champion here and also while in New Zealand seeing him throw the sixth farthest throw ever in any competition. So it seems dim but he has to do it again and every time he faces me he has to do it again. I too have to perform at my best against him. I still have a shot and I am going there to do my best,” he said with determination.
Ashinia Miller is the other competitor for Jamaica in that event and will no doubt be banking on the experience of his teammate as he looks to progress to the final round.
Julian Forte has unfortunately had to withdraw from the games due to an injury but this opens the door for young Nigel Ellis who has been called up to replace him. Ellis will run in heat five, Oshane Bailey will run before hi9m in heat three while favourite Blake will run in heat eight.
Track and field head coach Maurice Wilson is backing Ellis to give a good showing of himself at the Commonwealth Games.
“He is extremely talented, it’s a good platform for him. The competition here is fairly strong and this should give him some amount of experience in relation to other major meets.”
With no Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraiser-Price, Veronica Campbell-Brown or Asafa Powell down to face the starters it is a new look team that will represent Jamaica on the track and Wilson hopes that this contingent will seize the moment.
“It’s a transition for the team. The last two major meets we did not do as well as persons expected. We are expecting that the athletes here will set a platform for future meets of this caliber or even higher. We are not leaving any stones unturned. I wish some of the athletes had a couple more days in terms of being in the environment, but I don’t think that should affect them tremendously and I think they are going to go out there and do well,” Wilson suggested.
The women will run before the men in the 100m and Christania Williams will be the first Jamaican on the track in heat two. Natasha Morrison goes in heat five and Gayon Evans goes in heat six.
The Men’s 400m will be the last track event for the day and Javon Francis, Rusheen McDonald and Demish Gaye are all down to face the starter. Francis goes in heat one, McDonald goes in heat four and Gaye in heat five.
However, before all these athletes begin competition, Canigia Raynor will make history when he becomes the first male to represent Jamaica in the hammer throw event at an international tournament. This will no doubt be special for Raynor but also for field events in the country.