jamaican athletes
Photo Source: LSU & University of Texas

Overseas-based Jamaican athletes have carried their good indoor form outdoors. Damion Thomas, Stacey-Ann Williams, O’Brien Wasome, Kevona Davis, and Charokee Young have commenced their outdoor season with commendable performances.

Damion Thomas, the Louisiana State University (LSU) senior, who won the men’s 60m hurdles at the recent NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championship, has continued his brilliant form outdoors, winning the men’s 110m hurdles event in a world-leading 13.22 seconds (1.3m/s) on the final day (March 7th) of the 93rd Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays in Austin, Texas.

Former Rusea’s High and national junior representative, Brithon Senior of the University of South Dakota, was second behind Thomas in 13.54 seconds, a personal best and school record.  

O’Brien Wasome, formerly of Jamaica College, also produced a world-leading 17.05m triple jump in his outdoor season opener at the Longhorn Invitational at the Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin, Texas on March 6th. His winning jump, done on his second attempt, was a wind-aided 17.06m. The trailing wind was 2.4m/s.

Wasome’s two distances better the previous outdoor best of 16.81m held by Cuba’s Andy E. Hechavarria and set on February 27 in Cuba.

Only Carey McLeod, formerly of Kingston College (KC), and now a junior at the University of Tennessee, has jumped further than Wasome this season. McLeod leapt 17.17m indoors to win gold at the SEC Championships in Arkansas on February 27th.  

At the Texas vs Texas A&M Dual track meet at Mike A. Myers Stadium, Austin, Texas, on Saturday, April 3, Stacey-Ann Williams, the former St. Elizabeth Technical athlete, now competing for Texas, won the 400m in 51.24. Another Jamaican, Charokee Young, representing Texas A&M, placed second in 51.52.

Williams’ and Young’s performance place them fifth and sixth, respectively, in leading performance in the 400m for the 2021 season so far. They are placed ahead of fellow Jamaicans Stephanie-Ann McPherson (51.70), Shiann Salmon (51.74), and Janieve Russell (51.77).

At the same meet, Kevona Davis, the former Edwin Allen standout, clocked 11.35 in the women’s 100m, placing second behind Kynnedy Flannel, her Texas teammate who clocked 11.23. Texas A&M’s Kaylah Robinson was third in 11.69.

Later in the day, Davis (22.89) had to settle for second place, yet again, behind her teammate, Kynnedy Flannel (22.55), in the 200m. Though, many concerns have been expressed on social media about Davis’ failure to realize expectations so far, it is worth noting that only two other Jamaicans, Sherika Jackson (22.79) and Natalliah Whyte (22.88) have ran faster than her, thus far, this season.

Competing for Texas, O’Brien Wasome won the triple jump with a distance of 15.83m, which placed him ahead of C.J. Stevenson who was second with 15.19m, and teammate Stacy Brown Jr who was third with 14.65m.

Kemba Nelson, who won the 60m title at the NCAA Nationals on March 13 in 7.05, the second-fastest time in the world this year, continues her impressive sprinting outdoors. On March 7 at the 42nd Annual Aztec Invitational in San Diego, California, she won the 200m in a wind-aided 22.79 seconds. Her performances this season reflect the rapid progress she has made in the six months she has been at Oregon.

If Nelson continues at the same trajectory, it is a good bet she will be on Jamaica’s team to Tokyo later this year.

Though, it is still early in the season, Jamaican-US-based athletes are laying down the gauntlet as they eye the Tokyo Olympics in the summer. We wait with bated breath on the performances of local-based athletes whose preparation have been hampered badly, courtesy of COVID-19.