Posted on

Shericka Jackson’s feat makes the women’s sprint events a must watch at World Athletics Championships next month

Shericka Jackson’s feat makes the women’s sprint events a must watch at World Athletics Championships next month

For a while the worry for the world of athletics has been who will fill the void left by the great sprinter Usain Bolt. The World Championships in Oregon is next month and Yohan’s Blake’s return to form with a blistering 9.85 seconds, his best timing in a decade, could not have come at a better moment. In the 200 metres, the build up to the showdown between defending world champion Noah Lyles and the next big star Erriyon Knighton got even bigger when Lyles beat the 18-year-old to win the men’s 200m final at the US Athletics Championships.

Lyles showed why he is in the form of his life as he gained ground on the straight after Knighton was ahead coming out of the curve. While Blake and Lyles have been in focus, the women have gone about setting the track on fire ahead of the Worlds.

On Sunday at the Jamaican Championships in Kingston, Shericka Jackson (21.55 seconds) ran the third-fastest 200 metres in history to complete the sprint double and laid down the marker for her countrymates Elaine Thompson-Herah (22.05) and world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (22.14) who finished second and third respectively.

“Honestly, I didn’t expect to run this fast. I knew I was in good shape and when I spoke to the coach yesterday, he wanted a proper execution and the curve was one of the areas discussed. I think I did well on the curve, my coach told me to run the first 100m hard and do whatever I want afterwards. I am just grateful,” Jackson was quoted as saying by World Athletics website.

Jackson had also won her first Jamaican national in the 100 metres with a season best of 10.77 (0.9m/s).

Jackson is now only third behind Florence Griffith-Joyner’s (21.34) and Thompson-Herah’s (21.53) when it comes to the 200 metres.

If Jackson can keep this form going, and Fraser-Pryce runs both the sprint events it will be thrilling to watch the women’s 100 and 200 metres.

In fact, Thompson-Herah is gunning for Griffith-Joyner’s long-standing 100 metres world record of 10.49 seconds set in 1998. Thomson-Herah, the 100 metres and 200 metres champion of the Tokyo Olympics, in some people’s books should already be given the title of the fastest woman ever in the 100 metres. Her 10.54 achieved last year with a wind speed of (+0.9 metres per second) is more authentic than Griffith-Joyner’s, they say.

The reason has to do with the wind readings at the US trails back in 1988 when the current world record was set.

The controversial record has remained in the books though a malfunction in the wind gauge came to light later. Griffith Joyner’s world record set during the Quarterfinal 1 of the 1988 US Olympic trials, had a wind speed of zero. However, an IAAF (now World Athletics) study in 1995 found that the wind gauge had malfunctioned. Based on analysis of wind speeds during heats and qualifiers (tailwinds of at least 2.7 m/s and as high as five metres per second were recorded), the study concluded that when Quarterfinal 1 was being held the wind speed was actually +5.0m/s and not zero. The IAAF didn’t strike Griffith Joyner’s time off and till date it remains unbroken.

In a BBC interview from last year after she ran 10.54 seconds, Thompson-Herah said, “A few years ago I was asked whether I could break that record and I said it was not possible,” she said. “But for me to run 10.54 means it is within reach, therefore it means anything is possible.”

If Thompson-Herah breaks what has been considered an ‘evergreen record’ it will go down as one of the greatest feats in sport.

But don’t be surprised if Blake provides the added excitement in the men’s 100 metres.

“You have to believe in yourself,” said Blake. “I’m the second-fastest man in the history of the sport. The naysayers kept me going, whenever they say I won’t make it or I should give up, I use that to fuel me and push through,” Blake was quoted as saying by World Athletics.

Blake was also going through personal trauma because his father had suffered a stroke. He dedicated the win to his father.

“I just came out here to do this for him because I’ve been in disarray all week and just kept strong to win,” the 2011 world champion said.


Posted on

Olympics Live Updates: Erin Jackson’s Gold Is First U.S. Speedskating Medal in Beijing

Olympics Live Updates: Erin Jackson’s Gold Is First U.S. Speedskating Medal in Beijing
ImageErin Jackson, 29, won the first U.S. speedskating medal in Beijing in the women’s 500-meter race on Sunday.
Credit…Gabriela Bhaskar/The New York Times

Erin Jackson ended a drought of U.S. speedskating medals by taking first place in the women’s 500-meter race on Sunday, becoming the first African American woman to win gold or any medal in the sport. It is also the first medal for an American speedskater in Beijing and the first individual speedskating medal won by an American since the 2010 Vancouver Games.

“I think I kind of blacked out,” said her teammate Brittany Bowe, who also competed in the race. “I screamed so loud I almost passed out.”

Jackson, 29, was the dominant 500-meter skater in the world this year, winning four of the eight races contested at World Cup events and winning a medal in two others. Her time, 37.04, was the third-fastest 500 meters skated at a sea-level oval.

Shortly after her win, Jackson embraced her coach, Ryan Shimabukuro. “I said the same thing I said to Joey Cheek in 2006,” Shimabukuro said. “You’re an Olympic champion.”

Jackson’s gold in Beijing comes a little over four years after she transitioned to speedskating from in-line skating. She qualified for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics after only four months of training, finishing 24th in the 500 meters there.

While she is much more comfortable on the ice than she was in 2018, Jackson is still relatively new to the sport. “I still have a bit of fear when it comes to skating on the ice,” she said in December. “I don’t have a lot of trust in myself and the blades, the ice and definitely the people around me.”

But any discomfort is masked by her explosive speed. The 500 meters is the shortest race in speedskating: just one straightaway and then a lap around the oval. Jackson is a good starter, but she is great at maintaining her speed during the lap. She had the second fastest opener and the fastest lap in winning her medal.

“She has really good technique. She has really, really strong hips, and she keeps them stable and steady when she skates,” said Kimi Goetz, an American who finished 18th in the race.

Goetz added, “She is putting so much power into the ice, and she is just super fast.”

Miho Takagi of Japan won silver, and Angelina Golikova of Russia took the bronze.


USA flag

United States


JPN flag




ROC flag

Russian Olympic Committee



Jackson is part of a stable of American skaters, including Bowe and Joey Mantia, who are from the surprising speedskating hotbed of Ocala, Fla. Renee Hildebrand coached all in in-line skating before they moved to the ice. It is a well-worn path for American skaters, like the Olympic medalists Chad Hedrick and Derek Parra, because in-line is not an Olympic sport.

Jackson’s participation in Beijing almost ended before it began. During the Olympic trials in Milwaukee in January, she slipped in her race and finished third, with the United States having just two entries in the 500 meters at the Olympics. Bowe, who is better at the 1,000 meters and 1,500 meters but finished first in the 500 meters at the trials, gave up her spot to Jackson.

Bowe’s sacrifice was ultimately unnecessary, as the United States was later awarded a third Olympic entry in the event after a complicated process of reallocating spots. She finished 16th.

Speedskating has historically produced the most medals at the Winter Olympics for the United States, but they have been hard to come by recently. Americans did not win any medals in the sport at the Sochi Games in 2014, a debacle that devolved into arguments about the skin suits worn by athletes and a high-altitude training camp before the low-altitude Games. The only speedskating medal that the Americans won in 2018 was a bronze in the women’s team pursuit.

“We need that bad,” Bowe said of Jackson’s victory on Sunday.