His­tory for Spencer, Ja­maica stunned in sprint re­lays

Stabroek News Sunday - - SUNDAY SPORT -

GOLD COAST, Aus­tralia, CMC – Vet­eran St Lu­cian jumper Lev­ern Spencer ended her na­tion’s frus­trat­ing 56year wait for a Com­mon­wealth Games gold medal when she pro­duced a sea­son-best per­for­mance to win the women’s high jump here yes­ter­day.

Spencer, who man­aged only bronze in the event at the last two Games in In­dia and Glas­gow, cleared 1.95 me­tres on her third-last ef­fort, to also en­sure St Lucia their first medal of the meet which wraps to­day.

Guyana also picked up their first medal through United States-based Troy Doris who cap­tured the men’s triple jump with a leap of 16.88m.

How­ever, there was no an­tic­i­pated gold for Ja­maica in the sprint re­lays as the women’s team ended with sil­ver and the men’s, bronze, as Eng­land swept the head­line events on the fi­nal day of the track and field com­po­nent at Car­rara Sta­dium.

Spencer, the Pan Amer­i­can Games cham­pion in Toronto three years ago, found early chal­lenges from Eng­land’s Mor­gan Lake (1.93) and Aus­tralian Ni­cola McDer­mott (1.91) who even­tu­ally fin­ished in the run­ners-up spots on the podium.

All three jumpers eas­ily cleared 1.91m but Spencer and Lake were left to bat­tle it out af­ter McDer­mott thrice failed at 1.93m.

They both needed a sec­ond jump to clear 1.93 but it was Spencer who distin­guished her­self once the bar was raised again, as Lake fell out of con­tention for gold.

“It’s a re­ally good feel­ing and I am happy I’m the one mak­ing his­tory for my coun­try,” said Spencer.

“In the last two edi­tions of the Com­mon­wealth Games I got bronze so I was de­ter­mined to work hard this time to win gold and my re­sults to­day were good enough.”

US-based An­tiguan Priscilla Fred­er­ick, a Pan Amer­i­can Games sil­ver medal­list, fin­ished fifth in a sea­son-best 1.87 while Spencer’s coun­try­woman Janelle Scheper was ninth in 1.80.

Doris, mean­while, was forced to pull out all the stops es­pe­cially af­ter Cuba-born Do­mini­can Yor­danys Du­ra­nona Gar­cia laid down the gaunt­let from early with a mark of 16.86 on his first jump.

Doris re­sponded with the win­ning mark on his sec­ond leap, forc­ing Gar­cia to set­tle for sil­ver, while Cameroon’s Mar­cel Mayak II took bronze in a per­sonal best 16.80.

The re­lays proved a dis­ap­point­ment for tra­di­tional pow­er­houses Ja­maica. Four years ago in Glas­gow, they swept three of the four in­clud­ing both sprints.

Yes­ter­day, how­ever, they man­aged to win just one of four but more sig­nif­i­cantly en­sur­ing the much vaunted Caribbean na­tion left the Games with­out a gold in the in­di­vid­ual or re­lay sprints.

Per­haps their big­gest dis­ap­point­ment was in the men’s sprint re­lay which fea­tured two-time Olympic sprint sil­ver medal­list, Yo­han Blake. The Ja­maicans could only muster bronze as Eng­land won in 38.13 and South Africa claimed sil­ver in a new na­tional record 38.24.

“We’re go­ing through a tran­si­tion pe­riod,” Blake said of the post-Usain Bolt era.

“We were dom­i­nat­ing world-wide and coach is work­ing to get me back to that level so I can dom­i­nate again.”

Olympic star Elaine Thomp­son nearly gave Ja­maica gold in the women’s sprint re­lay but she was forced to set­tle for sil­ver in the end as Lor­raine Ugen got to the line first in a na­tional record 42.46.

The Ja­maicans tasted gold, how­ever, in the women’s dis­tance re­lay when the quar­tet of Chris­tine Day, Anas­ta­sia Le-Roy, Janieve Rus­sell and Stephe­nie McPher­son brought the stick around in three min­utes, 24 sec­onds to win hand­somely.

There was no such for the luck for the men who fin­ished with bronze as Botswana took gold and the Ba­hamas, sil­ver.

Gre­nada cap­tured their sec­ond medal when An­der­son Pe­ters fin­ished third in the men’s javelin with a throw of 82.20.

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