André Lowe, Gleaner
Jamaica added two medals on yesterday’s seventh day of competition at the IAAF World Champion-ships in Athletics – one, a display of pure class; the other, a reward for courage, class, and determination.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and the Javon Francis-powered men’s 4x400m relay team turned the Luzhniki Stadium into a big Jamaican party, as waving flags and Bob Marley songs rocked the iconic Moscow landmark, as Jamaica celebrated its fourth and fifth medals here.
Fraser-Pryce became the first Jamaican woman and only the third in history to win the sprint double at the World Championships, adding her 200m title to the 100m gold won on Monday, with another commanding display.
The other two World Champs female double-sprint champions are Germans Silke Gladisch in 1987 and Katrin Krabbe in 1991.
The two medals won yesterday lifted
Jamaica’s tally to five (three gold, one silver, one bronze).
Fraser-Pryce, who won in 22.17 ahead of Ivory Coast star Murielle Ahoure and Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare, who both posted 22.32, was extremely excited about her latest success, noting that the 200m has given her greater self-belief.
“Accomplishing this one-two (100m, 200m double) has given me a new appreciation of the talent and coach that I have,” said Fraser-Pryce after her win.
“Also, the fact that if I want something to be done and I put my mind to it, if it doesn’t happen the first time or the second time, as long as I never give up and lose focus it can be achieved.”
Fraser-Pryce’s coach, Stephen Francis, also gave the run his stamp of approval, well sort of.
“It was an OK effort. You have to take into account the fact that it is quite chilly and the wind never cooperated; I have no real complaints,” Stephen Francis said.
“At the end of the day, you want to achieve certain things and at this point of time what matters is the outcome, but there were no blatant deficiencies or mistakes she made as far as I can see,” Francis told The Gleaner.
BEST ANCHOR LEG
In what technical leader Maurice Wilson described as the best anchor leg he has seen by a Jamaican, 18-year-old schoolboy Francis, picked up the baton in fifth place, before producing a jaw-dropping leg; motoring down the backstretch and leaving Belgium’s Will Oyowe and Great Britain’s Nigel Levine for dead, before holding off Russia’s Vladimir Krasnov – whom he had already passed – in a desperate duel to the finish line, to secure the silver medal for Jamaica in 2:59.88.
Up to press time, the official splits from timekeepers SEIKO was not made available.
Jamaica’s 4x400m medal was the country’s ninth in the 14 stagings of the World Championships of Athletics and an improvement on the bronze medal won in Daegu two years ago.
“I really wanted a medal to go back home with to show my mom and my dad,” Francis said. “I feel good, my teammates put in the hard work and I did my part.”
Earlier, Usain Bolt, Warren Weir and Nickel Ashmeade all qualified for the 200m final (today 11:10 a.m.).
Bolt won his semi-final in 20.12, with Weir and Ashmeade finishing second in theirs in 20.20 and 20.00, respectively.
“I’m looking forward to going out there and running as fast as I can,” Bolt said of today’s final.
He added: “Running on this track for a couple of days, it doesn’t feel like a fast track, but I’m going to do my best and see what happens.”
Jamaica’s fourth 200 semi-finalist, Jason Livermore, finished fifth in 20.46 and failed to advance.
Damar Forbes placed eighth in the men’s long jump final after a best mark of 8.02m – done on his best attempt – which came amidst three fouls. Russia’s Aleksandr Menkov won 8.56.
Sisters Danielle and Shermaine Williams are through to today’s 100m hurdles semi-finals (9:20 a.m.) after third-place finishes in the heats.
Danielle Williams, who got a great start, but was caught midway the race, posted 13.11 to finish behind Queen Harrison, 12.95, from the USA, and Alina Talay, 12.99, from Belarus.
Older sister Shermaine Williams stopped the clock at 13.09 in her heat, which was won by Brianna Rollins (USA) in 12.55, with Lavonne Idlette (Dominica), 13.06, second.
Jamaica’s other competitor in the 100m hurdles, Andrea Bliss, failed to advance after a sixth-place finish in her heat with a time of 13.20. The semi-finals are set for this morning at 9:20.
Meanwhile, Jamaica’s management team deliberated unsuccessfully with the Jury of Appeals, after the women’s 4x400m relay team was disqualified for a lane infringement by lead-off runner Rosemarie Whyte.
‘Pocket Rocket’ Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce celebrates with the Jamaica flag after sealing a historic sprint double with her 200-metre victory, at the World Championships of Athletics inside the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, yesterday. Fraser-Pryce had earlier won the 100 metres. – Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer