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  Track And Field

Jamaica's rich World Champs history

 
Elton Tucker, Assistant Editor - Sport

Jamaica has a very rich history at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics.

The island has attended and won medals at every championships since the first was held in Helsinki, Finland in 1983. The country's first gold medal was collected by Bertland Cameron in the 400 metres at the inaugural meet and, since then, several other outstanding athletes have become World champions in the black, green and gold of Jamaica.

In 1991, the quartet of Dahlia Duhaney, Juliet Cuthbert, Beverly McDonald and the great Jamaican sprinter Merlene Ottey gave the women their first gold medal at the third championships in Tokyo, Japan, in a national record 41.94 seconds.

Overall, Jamaican teams have won seven gold, 29 silver and 30 bronze medals in eleven stagings of the IAAF World Championships which was held every four years until 1991 when it was changed to a biennial meet.

Beijing performance

Significantly, Jamaica has never won more than one gold medal at a World Championships. The best performance by the island came at the last 2007 meet in Osaka, Japan, where the island's representatives took home one gold, six silver and three bronze. The only gold was won by Veronica Campbell-Brown in the women's 100 metres. There was a historic silver for Maurice Smith in the decathlon. It was Jamaica's first medal in a multi-discipline event at a world level championships.

With Jamaica on top of the world in men's and women's sprinting following a six-gold haul in Beijing at last year's Olympic Games, the island is expected to register a record medal haul in Berlin.

With most of the stars of Beijing in Jamaica's contingent for Berlin, it would be a big disappointment to many if Jamaica did not at least duplicate the excellent Beijing performance.

Defending champion

Olympic triple champion Usain Bolt is the hot favourite to win the sprint double, despite the presence of defending champion in both the 100m and 200m, American Tyson Gay. Barring a monumental mistake, the sprint relay team with Bolt, Asafa Powell, Michael Frater and one other athlete should not only win gold but break the 37.10 seconds world record it set in Beijing last year.

Among the women, another 100m medal sweep is very likely. Kerron Stewart is the world leader with 10.75 seconds and Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser is at number two with 10.88. Defending champion Veronica Campbell-Brown has also gone under 11 seconds this season.

Campbell-Brown is also the Olympic champion in the 200m, while in the 400m great runs are expected from Olympic silver medallist Shericka Williams and 2007 World bronze medallist Novlene Williams-Mills.

Olympic champion Melaine Walker is slowly getting her act together and will be the one to beat in the women's 400 metres hurdles. Walker has suffered several defeats this season but the real test will come in three rounds at the championships not in one-off races on the grand prix circuit. She showed in the Olympics that she is a big occasion performer with a games record 52.64 seconds for gold.

Ottey remains Jamaica's top medal winner at the championships, having become the island's first and only back-to-back champion when she won the 200m gold in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1993 and repeated in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 1995 following the disqualification of American Gwen Torrence.

Ottey's overall tally of 14 makes her the leading medal winner at the championships. She own three gold, four silver and seven bronze medals in six championships up to 1997. The leading man is American Carl Lewis with 10 - eight gold, one silver and one bronze.

Several other Jamaicans are multiple medallists at the World Championships. Among the men, Gregory Haughton has six while Davian Clarke and Danny McFarlane have won five each - all in relays.

Sprinter Beverly McDonald and 400m runner Lorraine Fenton with seven medals each head the other multiple medal winners among Jamaica's women. Merlene Frazer, Sandie Richards and Deon Hemmings have each won five medals.

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