Bolt For Bahamas

Bolt heads Jamaican team for Bahamas 2005
Wednesday 6 July 2005
In the absence of World record holder Asafa Powell and Olympic champion Veronica Campbell, Jamaica’s team to the 20th Central America and Caribbean (CAC) Senior Championships will be led by World Junior Record holder Usain Bolt, Olympic bronze medallist Tayna Lawrence and North and Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) champion Maurice Smith.

The 8-11 July meet will be held in Nassau, Bahamas, with over 30 nations having confirmed their participation. In spite of leaving out some of the island’s most highly celebrated athletes, Jamaica will have high expectations.

Sprints to the fore

Although most of Jamaica’s top sprinters are on the European circuit, Bolt, the region’s top-ranked 200m runner, should do fine job carrying his nation’s hopes in the half-lap sprint. Six weeks shy of his 21st birthday, Bolt has run at four major meets this year, winning each time and establishing a season’s best time of 20.14 seconds in the Jamaica Invitational in May.

The 400m should be a strong event for Jamaica – as usual. National quarter-mile champion Lansford Spence and Brandon Simpson are second and third in CAC for that event. They are likely to be joined by Sanjay Ayre and Marvin Essor for what should be the strongest men’s mile relay team in Nassau, even without Davian Clarke and Michael McDonald.

Lawrence was a 100m bronze medalist at the Games of the XXVII Olympiad last year in Sydney, Australia, 2000 Olympics and relay gold medalist in Athens last year. At her National Championships, she could do no better than fifth – behind veteran Beverly McDonald - but that earned them both relay spots for the World Championship in Helsinki in August.

Veteran ladies for hurdles

One of the oldest members of the Jamaica team is Michelle Freeman, the 36-year-old 100m hurdler who is steadily improving after a serious car accident three years ago. At 32, national 400m Hurdles champion Debbie-Ann Parris-Thymes is another veteran presence.

Shevon Stoddart will be another one to watch. The top-ranked mile hurdler in CAC, Stoddart – along with Parris-Thymes and Melanie Walker – is qualified for World Championships already. She was a member of Jamaica’s 2004 Olympic Team and an NCAA silver medalist this year.

Second and third at the Jamaica National Championships, Christopher Pinnock and decathlete DeCosma Wright could do very well in the men’s 100m Hurdles. Third and fourth in the men’s 400m Hurdles were former US Collegiate champion Dean Griffiths and Leroy Colquhoun.

Smith leads the rest

Since establishing a new National Record for the men’s Decathlon whilst winning the event at the NACAC Combined Events Championship earlier this year, 24-year-old Maurice Smith has only competed in one event, winning the Discus Throw at Nationals.

In Nassau, Smith and Claston Bernard, the former Jamaica National Record holder, could wage a two-man battle for gold. Wright, should he be included in that mix, will be unlikely even to figure in the medals, but at 22, he has a lot of room for improvement.

In the men’s High Jump, World Indoor bronze medalist Germaine Mason aims to demonstrate that he is fully recovered from the knee injury that ruled him out of Athens last year. He will be joined by outstanding young jumper Alain Bailey, who competes in Long Jump and High Jump.

After clearing 1.89m to become national High Jump champion less than two weeks ago, Sheree Francis is hoping to clear 1.92m in Nassau, which would equal the B standard for next month’s World Championships in Athletics. It would also surpass the Jamaica national record of 1.90m held by Dianne Guthrie.

Elva Gouldbourne, also recovering from injury, won the women’s Long Jump at Nationals. Gouldbourne, 25 years old, has made the B qualifying standard for her event at World Championships, but she will want to hit the A standard; 20-year-old Peta-Gaye Beckford still has some work to do.

Dorlan Scott has a better chance than Kimani Kirton of hitting the 20m mark in Shot Put , which would qualify under the B standard for World Championships. Last month’s US Collegiate women’s Shot Put champion Kimberley Barrett has already qualified for Worlds.

Terry Finisterre for the IAAF

The full Jamaican squad reads as follow -

Men: Lerone Clarke, Kurt Watson, Usain Bolt, Dewayne Barrett, Lansford Spence, Brandon Simpson, Aldwyne Sappleton, Ricardo Cunningham, Christopher Pinnock, DeCosma Wright, Dean Griffiths, Leroy Colquhoun, Dorlan Scott, Kimani Kirton, Herbert McGregor, Alain Bailey, Wilbert Walker, Kenneth Sylvester, Maurice Smith, Claston Bernard, Llewelyn Bredwood, Kevin Stewart, Lansford Davis, Marvin Essor, Sanjay Ayre, Sekou Clarke.

Women: Beverly McDonald, Tayna Lawrence, Sheri-Ann Brooks, Peta-Gaye Dowdie, Shellene Williams, Moya Thompson, Aneita Denton, Kayon Thompson, Andrea Bliss, Michelle Freeman, Debbie-Ann Parris-Thymes, Shevon Stoddart, Kimberley Barrett, Elva Goulbourne, Pete-Gaye Beckford, Andrea Linton, Mardrea Hyman, Korene Hinds, Sheree Francis, Karen Beautle, Olivia McKoy, Kateema Riettle, Natalie Grant, Caltha Seymour, Daniele Browning, Jenice Daley, Nadia Davy, Sonita Sutherland, Allison Beckford, Anastasia Le-Roy.