Caribbean athletes continue medal hunt
By Clare Forrester in the Olympic Village
The two Jamaicans 200m sprinters, Veronica Campbell-Brown (VCB) and Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce, in tonight’s finals are among the favourites to win medals.
Their major competition is expected from the trio of American finalists, Allyson Felix, Carmelita Jeter and Sanya Richards-Ross, who all seem to be in outstanding form.
Felix continues to look the most dangerous of the three and is the only one to have dipped under the 22-second barrier this year.
In fact, VCB is the only other sub-22 seconds 200m sprinter in tonight’s finals.
But the Jamaican has not run that fast in a while.
Felix may have to be in the sub 22 seconds zone to claim her first Olympic 200 metres title.
But she is hungry for a medal of any colour in an individual event and that makes her even more dangerous.
Jeter too is yet to strike gold and does not at all seem comfortable with that reality.
She seems less accessible to non-US journalists since last week and was not present at the winners’ 100m press conference.
Jamaican-born Sanya Richards-Ross posted the fastest time in the semi finals but that might not be significant although she too looked in good shape.
Fortunately for Jamaica, their two finalists have received favourable lane placement and so the medal outcome is entirely up to them.
Over the past three decades, a Jamaican has always been on the 200m medal podium and this should be no exception.
Trinidad & Tobago’s Semoy Hackett has done very well in making it into tonight’s finals.
She has a best time of 22.55, the slowest in the field, but may have been inspired by her previously unheralded compatriot Lalonde Gordon who earlier this week accounted for his country’s first medal when he placed third in the men’s 400 metres.
Other Caribbean prospects
The Caribbean’s other potential medal-winning races tonight should be in the women’s 400 metres hurdles and possibly the men’s 110 metres hurdles.
In the former, Kaliese Spencer will need to step up to the plate in the absence of her more successful teammate Melaine Walker who was shockingly eliminated in the semi-final round.
Spencer has been an outstanding campaigner on the Diamond League Grand Prix circuit in recent years and her personal best (PB) time, 52.79, is second only to another favourite, the US Lashinda Demus, 52.47.
But Spencer’s form at world meets has been less than stellar.
In Daegu last year, although among the favourites, she could only manage to finish in fourth position, although she did claim that she was injured.
She is further at a disadvantage by an eighth lane assignment and must over achieve if she is to be on the medal podium.
Caribbean men are also expected to do well in the 110 metres hurdles finals tonight, especially now that China’s star hurdler Xiang Liu, failed to advance.
In fact, Barbados’ Ryan Brathwaite has an opportunity to demonstrate that his 2009 world championship gold medal was not a fluke.
He will be under immense pressure to repeat that performance and will be pushed especially hard by the US pair of Jason Richardson and Aries Merritt also by Cuba’s world record holder Dayron Robles.
I expect Robles to claim the gold.