Golden day for Ja­maica

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS - Ray­mond Gra­ham/ Gleaner Writer

JA­MAICA HAD a golden day at the IAAF World Un­der-20 Cham­pi­onships in Tampere, Fin­land, yesterday.

Briana Wil­liams, 16, cap­tured the women’s 100 me­tres event while Damion Thomas gave the coun­try its first-ever win in the men’s 110 me­tres hur­dles as he led home a Ja­maican one-two with Or­lando Ben­nett tak­ing sil­ver.

Both Thomas and Ben­nett went into the cham­pi­onships as favourites for the two top medals, fol­low­ing their per­for­mances at the Na­tional Cham­pi­onships, where they pro­duced 12.99 and 13.00 se­conds to be ranked num­ber one and two in the world.

Thomas, who won bronze at the NCAA Out­door Cham­pi­onships, was de­ter­mined to make up for his mishap two years ago in Poland, when he ran into the first hur­dle in his semi-fi­nal and failed to fin­ish.

Yesterday, he took con­trol of the fi­nal from the start and crossed the line in 13.16. Ben­nett hit the eighth hur­dle, but kept his com­po­sure to fin­ish sec­ond in 13.33. Ja­pan’s Shun­suke Izumya was third in 13.38.

Wil­liams en­tered the Cham­pi­onships at num­ber two, be­hind Amer­i­can Twaneisha Terry, but gave signs that she was ready for some­thing spe­cial af­ter do­ing lit­tle in the pre­lim­i­nary round the pre­vi­ous day win­ning in 11.28.

In the semi-fi­nal ear­lier yesterday, Terry sped to a cham­pi­onships 11.03 and en­tered the fi­nal with the psy­cho­log­i­cal ad­van­tage. How­ever, the very con­fi­dent Wil­liams flew out of the blocks in the fi­nal and held on for the big­gest win of her young ca­reer clock­ing 11.16. Terry was sec­ond in 11.19 while Great Bri­tain’s Kristal Awuah was third in 11.36.

TALLY COULD IN­CREASE

The medal tally (two gold, one sil­ver and a bronze) could be in­creased to­day as there will be two fi­nals in­volv­ing two out­stand­ing Ja­maicans.

Fe­male team cap­tain Shian Salmon will take the track at 12:26 p.m. for the women’s 400 me­tres hur­dles fi­nal. Yesterday, she looked quite re­laxed in win­ning her semi-fi­nal heat in 56.29 se­conds to be the fastest qual­i­fier for to­day’s fi­nal. World leader Zeney Van Der Walt of South Africa is her main ri­val. The South African, who won gold at last year’s IAAF World Un­der -18 Cham­pi­onships, is the sec­ond fastest qual­i­fier af­ter win­ning her heat in 56.72. Ja­maica’s Sanique Walker who won sil­ver at the World Un­der-18 last year, failed to re­port for the semi-fi­nals due to an in­jury.

Male team cap­tain Christo­pher Tay­lor will be hop­ing to go all the way in the men’s 400 me­tres. Tay­lor, the world’s fastest junior in the event this year with 44.88 se­conds, took things very easy in his semi-fi­nal yesterday to win in 46.18 se­conds. He is the third fastest qual­i­fier, but should have no dif­fi­culty here in go­ing all the way. His team­mate, over­seas­based Chantz Sawyers, fin­ished sec­ond in his semi-fi­nal in 46.19 to be the fourth fastest qual­i­fier. The event will get un­der way at 12:35 p.m Ja­maica time.

COLLIN REID PHOTO, COUR­TESY OF AL­LIANCE MASTERCARD, COURTS, SUPREME VEN­TURES, GRACEKENNEDY AND JNBS.

Damion Thomas (left) and Or­lando Ben­nett gave Ja­maica gold and sil­ver re­spec­tively in the men’s 110 me­tres hur­dles at the IAAF World Un­der-20 Cham­pi­onships in Tampere, Fin­land yesterday. Thomas mined gold in 13.16 se­conds while Ben­nett was sec­ond in 13.33.

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