September 2022 Volume 18

A Fortis Look at the World Athletics Championships 2022

Roger Shaw
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Eugene, Oregon, USA - July 15 – 24, 2022

Eugene, Oregon is called Track Town USA (Nike Headquarters) and their stadium has one of the fastest tracks in the world! Located in a sleepy town in the Pacific Northwest with beautiful lakes, trails and camping spots, everyone expected an explosion of track and field excitement to hit the town. Unfortunately, with most restaurants closing by 8pm, there were very limited food options after the event. This made Uber Eats a popular choice at nights. The love for Jamaican food was very tempered as there were no Caribbean restaurants to be found in the city and there was only one food truck offering Caribbean food at the stadium.

The stadium never got full to capacity of 30,000, with the top attendance days being day 2 featuring the 100m men final which drew a crowd of 19,543. Day 3 attendance was the largest single day attendance of the championships with the feature being the women’s 100m finals which drew 21,065 spectators. The final day (Saturday) at Jamaica’s Boys and Girls Championships routinely draw larger crowds than this. The average number of spectators for the World Championships was just under 12,000. A new low.

The organizers had some cool technology on display, such as instant in-competition stats (split times in the 400m races for example) for the athletes. You could also actually see real time if an athlete was on world record pace or not (a line was inserted on the screen indicating the world record).

They also implemented the innovative instant medals to the winners. This was great for all the photographers in the crowd. The newly renovated stadium is quite intimate and the spectators are very close to the action wherever they are in the stadium. The place got really loud at times with chants of USA!!! and JAMAICA!!! With Jamaican Donald Smith one of the three stadium announcers, the Jamaicans in the crowd were excited as he brought the “Jamaican style” colour commentary to the races.

The USA team dominated the Championships, winning a whopping 33 medals of which 13 were Gold. Jamaica (with two Golds) tied for 2nd with Ethiopia and Kenya with 10 medals. The new concept of using a scoring table (from 1st to 8th place gets points) to rank countries had Jamaica 2nd overall with 110 points behind the USA 328 points.

The performances on the track and the field were truly top quality. There were three world records, 13 meet records, 30 world leading times, 1 world U20 record and 19 Area records. The athletes were really on the top of their game. Podium sweeps were quite fashionable with three being done by the USA. They impressively went 1-2-3 in both men’s sprint events (100m and 200m) as well as the men’s shot put.

Jamaica, not to be outdone, swept the women’s 100m sprint event through Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce, Shericka Jackson and Elaine Thompson Herah. The largely Jamaican crowd had the stadium rocking for this race. The sweep was anticipated, so the Black, Green and Gold colours took over the stadium.

The 200m women and the relays also brought out loud cheers from the Jamaicans. Shericka Jackson was awesome winning the women’s 200m in a championship/PB/2nd fastest time ever of 21.45. Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce was 2nd however Elaine Thompson Herah could only manage 7th thus stopping another podium sweep.

Apart from their dominance on the women’s individual sprint races, Jamaica won silver medals in three of the five relays (the men’s sprint relay team was 4th, and the mixed relay team 5th).

While the female teams were expected to win medals, the entire stadium was in shock as Jamaica lost to the USA in the women’s sprint relay after entering the event as the heavy favourites with the three individual medalist from the 100m race. While the race was a close finish between Jamaica and the USA, this race is still being discussed even today by many track and field fans.

It was unfathomable that Jamaica could lose the race after sweeping the 100m event. Meanwhile, as expected the women’s mile relay team strolled to their silver medal. A Jamaican national senior record-breaking performance from the WJ record holder in the women 100m Hurdles, Brittany Anderson, of 12.31, propelled her to an awesome silver medal in the hotly contested race. The event winner and new world record holder, Tobi Amusan from Nigeria is coached by Lacena Golding Clarke, the wife of KC track Legend Davian Clarke

Jamaica also had a surprising silver in the men’s 4X400m race. KC was well represented in this event as 3 members of the team, Akeem Bloomfield, Jevaughn Powell and Karayme Bartley are all Fortis men. Jamaica also had a silver medal from the always consistent Shaneika Ricketts in the women’s triple jump. It was wonderful seeing PB’s from Jaheel Hyde and Rushelle Clayton in the 400m Hurdles as they made it to the finals of their race.

The Jamaican crowd was stunned at the start of the 110m Hurdles finals as KC and Jamaica’s Hansle Parchment, the current Olympic Champion injured himself while warming up. The heavy medal favourite was out… just like that.

Wayne Pinnock, a KC champs legend and the current NCAA champ indoor and outdoor made it to the finals of the long jump, but his long season took a toll on him as he struggled a bit to finish 8th. Meanwhile, many Jamaicans were optimistic of our throwers Fredrick Dacres (Discus) and Danielle Thomas Dodd (Shot Put) to factor into the medals but unfortunately, they were not at their best at the championships.

It was awesome seeing young Christopher Taylor, who has been dominant from age 13 at Boys and Girls Champs, confidently anchoring the relay team of Akeem Bloomfield, Nathon Allen and Jevaughn Powell to a silver in the men’s 4X400m race. It was also heartwarming to see Jamaica with 2 women (Kimberly Williamson and Lamara Distin) in the High jump finals in Eugene and the immense potential of the Ackeem Blake and Oblique Seville in the men’s 100m race.

My performance of the meet: Sydney MacLaughlin running a world record 50.68 to win the women’s 400m hurdles event. That time is just out of this world!!!

Fortis men were also busy behind the scenes as Lennox Graham a 7-time Boys Champs winning coach, was named as a team coach by the JAAA. He also prepared Danielle Williams, a finalist in the women’s 100m hurdles event, as well as 400m hurdlers Kemar Mowatt and Kyron McMaster, the Commonwealth Games champion from the British Virgin Islands.

Fortis coaches Davian Clarke (Jevaughn Powell – 400m) and Michael Vassell (Chad Wright/Samantha Hall – Discus), also had athletes participating in Eugene.

Walking around the stadium, it was great seeing some KC legends like coaches Lennox Graham and Davian Clarke, Naron Stewart a many times High Jump champ for KC in the 90’s, 80’s sprint stars Martin Dawes, Donovan White, Errol Whittle and Cameron Mitchell. The one and only Conrad Smith (Bangy) was there having fun in the crowd as always. KC School Challenge stalwarts from the 80’s, Seymour “Big Head” Douglas and Ian Wilkinson QC were also in attendance.

The first World Championships in North America was certainly an event filled with high quality performances, and it was well organized and managed. It was a bit disappointing that the stadium was only half full on most days and the limited food options at nights.

All in all, it was fun and Jamaica represented well at the games. Fortis nation was there representing big time also.

- Roger Shaw, Fortis 1982

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