Jamaica’s senior athletes turned in another creditable performance at Saturday’s fifth staging of an international athletics meeting here in New York City but it may not have been enough to satisfy the appetite of the partisan crowd at the Icahn Stadium.
Haunted by the ugly memories of last Summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing, the Americans used each event on the Reebok Grand Prix meeting to reclaim a measure of respect and revenge on the world in general and the Jamaicans in particular.
At the end of the meeting, five hours and 36 events later, including seven of the fastest times run anywhere on the track this year, the Americans pronounced themselves in very good shape for the important World Championship of Athletics meeting in Berlin, Germany, in mid August this year.
Tyson Gay’s 19.58 run in the men’s 200 meters, a supersonic performance, was the exclamation that the Americans needed, leaving the Jamaicans a close stride or two behind for most of the afternoon meeting.
With Danny McFarlane – 3rd place, 48.89 seconds/400 h – and Steve Mullings – 3rd, 9.98/100 m – seemingly in good shape at this stage, it was Asafa Powell again trying to explain away another dismal outing, blaming his near last place – 7th/10.10/100 m – pedestrian finish on a still sore ankle.
In a post race interview, Powell told reporters that he will be in the line-up at this weekend’s Steve Prefontaine (Memorial) Classic in Eugene, Oregon (USA), as he continues to run himself into shape. He did not say for what meet and where.
The men’s ‘A’ race was won by American newcomer Mike Rodgers in a respectable 9.93 seconds. Michael Frater – 8th, 10.15 seconds – and Nesta Carter – 9th, 10.16 – gave Jamaica the dubious distinction of ‘pulling up the rear’.
The women fared much better and literally just a stride behind the Americans. Aleen Bailey – 3rd, 11.07 – in the ‘B’ section and Veronica Campbell Brown – 3rd, 10.91 – in the ‘A’ section of the 100 meters final, were creditable, as were Sherika Williams – 2nd, 50.58 – and Novlene Williams-Mills – 3rd, 51.11 – in the 400 meters race, won by American Allyson Felix in 50.50 seconds.
Nickiesha Wilson – 2nd, 55.28 – and Melaine Walker – 3rd, 55.29 – ran well in the 400 meters hurdles event, won by Tasha Danvers of Great Britain in 55.19 seconds. Half-miler Kenia Sinclair – 1:59.66 – finished second behind Ann Willard of the USA.
While Yohan Blake provided the only win for the ‘seniors’, posting 10.19 in the men’s 100 meters ‘B’ final, the ‘juniors’ (high schoolers) were quite impressive. Oshane Bailey won the HSB sprint final and came back later to power the Calabar quartet to a 40.21 first place clocking in the sprint relay final, ahead of St. Jago (40.45) and Kingston College (41.47). St. Jago topped the field in the 4 x 400 meters event, winning in 3:14.14 seconds.
Benjamin Cardoza of Queens, NY, impressed with a quartet of Caribbean girls – including two Jamaicans – winning the sprint and mile relays (3:39.96), ahead of Herbert Morrison Technical which needed a superb anchor leg from Andolique Campbell, coming all the way from fifth to finish second.
Portions of the meet which is one of four stops on the USA Track & Field Visa Championship Series, was broadcast live by the NBC Network.