Fraser-Pryce, Miller-Uibo, Kerley among stars for Racers Grand Prix

By Sports Desk June 08, 2019
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce

Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo and Fred Kerley headline the international stars who will compete at the 2019 edition of the Racers Adidas Grand Prix on Saturday at the National Stadium in Kingston.

The meet, which is in its fourth year, is scheduled to begin at 6:50 pm with the women’s triple jump.

Jamaica will be represented by the likes of two-time Olympic gold medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the country’s top discus thrower Fedrick Dacres, former world 100m champion Yohan Blake and the exciting pair of quarter-milers Akeem Bloomfield and Nathon Allen.

Fraser-Pryce, 32, has entered the spotlight only because she clocked 10.97 seconds on May 25 at a Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association All-Comers meet at the National Stadium.

Interesting, the 10.97 clocking represents the fastest time Fraser-Pryce has registered since returning to international competition in early June of 2018 after giving birth to her son Zyon, almost two years ago.

The 10.97 seconds at the time, represented the second fastest of the year behind Kayla White of the USA with 10.96. However, 12 days after Fraser-Pryce’s 10.97 clocking, her MVP Track Club training partner Elaine Thompson,  the 2016 Olympic 100 and 200 metres champion,  send a strong message with a world-leading 10.89 seconds to beat Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith (10.94) at the Rome Diamond League meeting to push Fraser-Pryce’s 10.97 to fourth in the world.

Fraser-Pryce will try to respond to Thompson’s 10.89 clocking on Saturday as she attempts a second straight victory at the meet.  Her only danger in the field is 2018 Commonwealth champion Michelle-Lee Aye of Trinidad and Tobago, whose best time this season is 11.23 seconds, the 37th fastest this year.

Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas will also target a second straight victory at the meet. She scored a runaway victory in the women’s 200m in 22.11 seconds at last year’s staging. This year, Miller-Uibo will compete in the 400m, the event where she won a dramatic gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

In a thrilling finish in Rio, Miller-Uibo stumbled and then dived across the line as she edged out American world champion Allyson Felix to win in 49.44 seconds.

Interestingly, Miller-Uibo will face off with American Phyllis Francis, who scored a shock victory over the 6-foot-1 inch Bahamian and Felix over the distance at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in Rio.

Miller-Uibo is the world's leading 400m runner. In an undefeated 2018 season across all distances, the Bahamian clocked a lifetime best of 48.97 to move to 10th on the world all-time list. She started her 2019 campaign with a bang, recording 49.05 in her opening 400m race of the season on April 24 in Florida. That time represents the fastest in the world at the distance. Christine Day, Chrisann Gordon, Junelle Broomfield, and Anastasia Le-Roy are the Jamaicans in the field.

Kerley, who was caught on the line by Kirani James in 2018, is back again to contest the 400m.

James, a 400m gold and silver medalist at the last two Olympics, was announced to compete but is not on the meet programme.

As a result, Kerley, the eighth fastest male quarter-miler on the world all-time list with 43.70 seconds recorded on May 26, 2017 in Austin, will face off with Trinidadian Machel Cedenio, who ran the race of his life to lead his country to gold medal in the 4x400m relay at the IAAF World Relays in Yokohama, Japan. In an epic finish, Cedenio managed to nick Paul Dedewo, who fell at the finish. America was later disqualified for a lane infringement as Trinidad won in a world-leading time of 3:00.81.

Kerley is the 10th fastest in the world this year with 44.81, while Cedenio is the 15th fastest with 45.03.

The Jamaican challenge will be led by 2018 NCAA Division 1 400m bronze medallist Nathon Allen, who turned pro just last year and has a personal best of 44.19.  Javon Francis, who left Akan Track Club last year to train in the United States and national 400m record holder Rusheen McDonald and Demish Gaye are also down to compete.

Bloomfield is expected to win the men’s 200m, the final event on the programme at 10:00 pm. The 21-year-old Bloomfield, who has a personal best of 19.81, will face off with Great Britain's Delano Williams, Canada's Brendon Rodney. Four other Jamaicans are in the race. They are Rasheed Dwyer, Warren Weir, Julian Forte, and Nigel Ellis.

Earlier, Blake and Great Britain’s Zharnel Hughes will face off in the men’s 100m at 8:20 pm.

Blake is the fastest in the field this season with a 9.98 clocking, which represents the eighth fastest in the world this year behind Americans Noah Lyles and Christian Coleman and  Nigerian Divine Oduduru, all with 9.89 seconds.

Hughes, the defending champions, has the 19th fastest time this year with 10.03. Former 100m world record holder Asafa Powell of Jamaica is also in the lineup.

The meet will feature 164 athletes from 19 countries competing in 19 events.

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    With sprinting and sports in general often considered the domain of younger athlete, Fraser-Pryce became one of several current stars willing to buck that trend after capturing gold at the Doha World Championships last year.  In the process, she became the oldest woman to ever win 100m gold at a global championship.  The 33-year-old also became the only sprinter to be crowned world champion over the 100m four times (2009, 2013, 2015 and 2019) and the first woman to hold dual world and Olympic titles on two separate occasions.

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    “The last time I won this award was 2015 and to be here over a decade later still representing the unique legacy that we have here for Jamaica in sprinting and athletics is a huge honour,” Fraser-Pryce said.

    “I hope that with this award a lot more athletes can understand that there is so much more to us as athletes and so much more to give.  You decide when its time to go,” she added.

    Fraser-Pryce registered another milestone two years ago when she took time off from the sport to have her first child.

     

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    Recognized as one of the rising stars in track and field having won the sprint double at the World U20 Championships in Tampere in 2018, Williams was courted by a number of shoe companies with PUMA and Nike being the frontrunners.

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    Williams, who turns 18 in March, said the Nike deal has provided a platform for her to chase her dreams.

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    The year 2019 was a big year for Williams. She won the 100m at the NACAC U18 Championships in Mexico and the Pan Am U20 Championships in Costa Rica during the year in which she ran unbeaten at the junior level.

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    The prodigious teen suffered a setback during the year when she returned an adverse finding for a banned diuretic found in her urine sample at the Jamaican National Championships in June where she finished third in the 100m behind two-time Olympic champions Elaine Thompson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

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    Following a hearing before an Independent Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel in September, Williams was reprimanded but was free to compete. However, due to how late the verdict came, her chances of competing at the 2019 World Championships in Doha were effectively dashed.

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