Photo: Defending World Champion at 100m and 200m Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce
August is a very special month for the small island nation of Jamaica. The nation of 2.8 million people celebrates both Emancipation and Independence days, as they pay their respects to the forefathers who sacrificed themselves to ensure the freedom of the nation.
But there is another reason why the people of Jamaica look forward to the month of August.
Major outdoor track and field championships are usually held during the month of August and ever since the Olympic Games in Beijing China in 2008, the number of medals garnered at these events have been impressive by the Caribbean nation.
The last two World Championships, Daegu, South Korea in 2011 and Moscow Russia in 2013 have seen identical medal hauls of nine – six gold, two silver and one bronze.
Jamaica returns to Beijing China, where two of their greatest sprinters ever, Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce introduced themselves to the world in no uncertain terms. Bolt who was on the cusp of greatness, claimed both the 100m and 200m gold while Fraser-Pryce, then just Fraser, claimed the most unlikely gold medal in the Women’s 100m.
The world will not soon forget the Women’s 100m final in which Jamaica claimed an unprecedented 1-2-2 with Kerron Stewart and Sherone Simpson both awarded the silver medal.
Usain Bolt has not been at the peak of fitness and Fraser-Pryce who is the defending champion in both the 100m and 200m will only contest the 100m, which has caused the Jamaican fans to temper their expectations, as we return to the ‘Birds Nest’. There is however, a new generation of athletes who are seemingly ready to knock on the door.
On the women’s side, sprinters Natasha Morrison (100m) and Elaine Thompson (200m) will be looking to stake their respective claims, while quarter miler Javon Francis, who ran that anchor fantastic leg in the Men’s 4x400m in Moscow, will look to make Beijing his coming out party.
While most of the country’s success has come on the track, Jamaica looks set to make quite an impact in the field in Beijing. Veteran discus thrower Jason Morgan is the current world leader with 68.19 meters while Pan Am Games 2015 champion, Fedrick Dacres has struck a rich vein of form since returning from injury. Commonwealth 2014 and Pan Am 2015 Shot Put champion, O’Dayne Richards, leads the charge in that discipline.
In the horizontal jumps, Kimberly Williams will be looking to medal in the triple jump while Damar Forbes has the same ambitions.
Pay keen attention to new national champion in the men’s sprint hurdles, Omar McLeod.
Many people will be wondering if Jamaica can maintain its dominance in the sprints at the World Championships, but most will be hopeful that we will be able to claim the key gold medals in the 100m for both men and women.