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.
This still feel unreal. God is in control.
To my family, friends, support and sponsors @ScotiabankJM @PurityBakeryJam and Puma. Thank you for your continuous support and love. We going to World Championship Team Jacko. #ThePantyQueen pic.twitter.com/yJFDk9ZMGq
— Shericka Jackson (@sherickajacko) June 27, 2022
“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.