In 2008 at Jamaica’s National Senior Championships in Kingston, a relatively unknown sprinter called Shelly-Ann Fraser stunned a nation when she finished second in the 100m behind Kerron Stewart, who clocked 10.80. Her time of 10.82 was a surprise to many but the bigger surprise was that she beat her more celebrated compatriots Sherone Simpson (10.86) and Veronica Campbell Brown, who was fourth in 10.88.

 There was a national outcry for Campbell-Brown to replace the greenhorn from the MVP Track Club. Surely, she would not be able to go to Beijing and do better than Campbell-Brown, the seasoned campaigner who won gold over 200m in Athens four years before and the 100m title in Osaka in 2007.

Stung by the naysayers calling for her head Fraser silenced them by becoming the first Jamaican woman to win an Olympic 100m title as Jamaica finished 1-2-2 in the finals. She would go on to win another Olympic 100m title four years later in London and just last year won an unprecedented fourth 100m title in Doha in 2019.

A 200m World title and an Olympic 200m silver medal have cemented her a legacy as arguably Jamaica’s greatest female sprinter and one of the best of all time.

She now says that she forgives those naysayers because she understands why they did.

"I’m not gonna say I blame them. I cannot because at the time Veronica was a sure thing,” Fraser-Pryce said during an interview with Yendi Phillips on her YouTube show Odyssey, Untold Journeys with Yendi.

“Looking back now I cannot say I would have sit down in my days and be at home and somebody say ‘Veronica naw run’ and me would a probably take that. Me woulda say ‘No, mi waan Veronica run,” said the four-time 100m World Champion.

“I remember watching that Olympics, 2004 Olympics, at home. Veronica was the standard. So I cannot imagine that they would have said anything different and I understand.

 I have forgiven all of that. I have moved on because I understand that while it shouldn’t have happened based on the rules, I understand where everybody was coming from and I think at the end of the day, I’m glad that I was able to open the doors for younger athletes to understand that anything that you set out to achieve, your age, it don’t matter. When you’re ready, you show up, and you go out there and you go after it.”

The 2004 Athens Olympics was my second watching on television but my first really understanding the stories behind the athletes who were representing my country.

Like the athletes had worked for four years, so had I in trying to understand the ins and outs of the sport.

I was only 14 years old, so there was still a lot to learn but I had by then learnt very well the name Veronica Campbell.

By this time the precocious talent from Clarke’s Town in Trelawny had already won the IAAF World Youth 100 metres title in 1999 and the IAAF World Under-20 sprint double in 2000.

Those achievements were sandwiched by a silver medal as part of Jamaica’s sprint relay team at the Sydney Olympics when she was only 18 years old.

Injuries in 2001 and 2003 delayed her senior World Championship debut but between that, she won a silver medal over 100 metres at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester England in 2002.

The warning signs get louder

As early as the indoor season of 2004 Veronica served warnings she would be a major force on the global scene even with a potentially long collegiate season for the University of Arkansas in prospect. 

She won the NCAA Indoor title over 200 metres, speeding to 22.43 seconds, and sending a strong signal to her competitors.

After a string of quality performances indoors and out, the former Barton County Community College athlete chose to forego the NCAA Outdoor Division One Championships to focus on her Olympic quest.

It was a master move by Campbell and her team as she took the professional route.    

I remember a particular race at the Weltklasse Golden League in Zurich, Switzerland. It was a stacked 100 metres field with Veronica Campbell among the principals.

Before the race, renowned commentator Stuart Storey said he thought the new Jamaican star could “win the Olympic title”.

Campbell finished fourth on that day, beaten by France’s Christine Aaron, Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie of the Bahamas and her Jamaican compatriot Aleen Bailey.

Storey then explained that Veronica was much better at 200 metres and that is where he favoured her for Olympic Gold.

He was right.

Around my community I listened to pot covers beating, doors and walls knocking, jumping as Veronica became the first Caribbean woman to win either a 100 or 200 Gold at the Olympic Games.

I have watched that race dozens of times since, whether it be to the stunning Caribbean voice that is Lance Whittaker or NBC’s Carol Lewis exclaiming Veronica’s devastating curve running.

For Jamaicans, the moment was massive.

The cycle of Jamaicans like Merlene Ottey, Grace Jackson and Juliet Cuthbert playing second fiddle to American and European sprinters had been broken.

The Caribbean, Jamaica had its Golden queen.

She also anchored the sprint relay team to Gold which meant she was involved in three of Jamaica’s five medals, having taken bronze in the 100 metres.

With the subsequent success that Jamaica has had, led by the legendary Usain Bolt and including women like Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and Elaine Thompson or the unforgettable work done by Merlene Ottey before them, it might be easy, especially for the new generation of athletics fans to miss the tremendous contribution of Veronica.

But she is truly among the greatest we have ever seen.

Will to excel on show

Her 2008 successful Olympic title defence was special, but it was her performance at the Jamaican Championships that year that will forever be etched in my mind.

Now bearing the name Campbell-Brown after her marriage to fellow Jamaican sprinter Omar Brown, she entered the Jamaican Olympic trials as the favourite for the sprint double but the world was shaken when she only placed fourth in the 100 metres despite a super-fast 10.88-second clocking.

A day later, she had to return for the 200 metres. Her Olympic aspirations hinged on that one race.

She also had to take on the three women who beat her in the 100: Kerron Stewart, Shelly-Ann Fraser and Sherone Simpson.

She did more than take them on, she beat them convincingly, clocking, still the fastest ever 200 time on Jamaican soil, 21.94 seconds.

Maybe that singular focus helped her to defend her title in Beijing and become only the second woman to defend the Olympic half-lap title.

As it stands, we will never know.

What we do know is that she produced another scintillating curve run and took Gold in a lifetime best, 21.74 seconds.

Veronica Campbell-Brown or VCB as she is now affectionately called has won eight global titles across World Championships, indoors and out and the Olympic Games.

She has a further 10 silver and 3 bronze medals, not counting her multiple global medals at the Youth and Junior levels.

She has always had a shy demeanour, but her desire to be the best has never been in question.

Outside of that tremendous run at the Jamaican Championship in 2008, VCB’s last global individual medal is also one that sticks to the memory.

In 2015 she was having a less-than-impressive year by her lofty standards.

She placed fourth in the 100 metres at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing.

In the 200 metres, she squeezed into the final as a fastest loser, almost labouring to 22.47 seconds.

It was only the sixth-fastest going into the championship race but importantly, her fastest time since the London 2012 Olympics.

After that semi-final, it felt as if Veronica had long past her best or anywhere close to it.

One last great run

But she had, what one might describe as one last great run, and on that night in Beijing she produced it.

From lane two, she powered around the bend like the Veronica of old. Her knocked knees, a glorious reminder of her greatest days.

The curve was vintage VCB as she inched clear of favourites Daphne Schippers of the Netherlands and Elaine Thompson, who was at the time Jamaica’s newest female sprinting sensation.

The old Veronica might have taken them to the line and snatched Gold, but not on that night in Beijing.

She could no longer hold her speed through 200 metres but still, it was one of her great runs as she crossed the line third in 21.97 seconds.

It was the first time she had broken 22 seconds since the 2010 season and she hasn’t done it since, more sharp reminders of what a miracle run it was.

It might do an injustice to her amazing legacy to speak much about her injury-plagued years beyond 2015.

In any case, there might be more to come as she hopes to qualify for a sixth Olympics come the rescheduled Games in Tokyo 2021.

But if Veronica never steps foot on a track again, her legacy will be sealed.

When she defended her Olympic title in 2008, a local TV reporter, Damion Gordon wrote, “Like wine to a party, Veronica Campbell-Brown is synonymous with athletics greatness.”

That, my friend, is how VCB should be remembered and spoken of – because she is now and always will be athletics greatness.

 

Ricardo Chambers has done Commentary on international track and field, cricket and Netball since 2010. He has also done local football commentary. For feedback you can email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Jonielle Smith, the 2019 World Championship relay gold medallist underwent successful surgery Friday to repair a herniated disc that has been an issue for her since late December 2019 when she was involved in a motor vehicle accident.

This according to MVP International on its website today.

Since then, the 2018 CAC champion has been suffering from back pain, which was addressed Friday. Doctors expect her to make a full recovery in about four weeks and are optimistic about her return for the 2021 season.

The athlete is said to be in good spirits.

Smith was sixth in the 100m final in Doha in 2019 after being called in as a replacement for Briana Williams.

Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser has retained the services of Trinidadian attorneys and barristers Dr Emir Crowne and Matthew Gayle, who will be her representatives in upcoming anti-doping proceedings for whereabouts violations before an Independent Disciplinary Tribunal.

World 400m champion Salwa Eid Naser insisted she has "never been a cheat" after being provisionally suspended, describing her three missed doping tests in a 12-month span as "normal".

Naser was charged with whereabouts failures in a statement released by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) this week.

Nigerian by birth, Naser switched allegiance to Bahrain six years ago and won 400m gold in 48.14 seconds – the third-fastest time ever – at the World Championships in Doha back in October.

Speaking on an Instagram Live video, the 22-year-old said: "I've never been a cheat. I will never be.

"I only missed three drug tests, which is normal. It happens. It can happen to anybody. I don't want people to get confused in all this because I would never cheat.

"This year I have not been drug tested. We are still talking about the ones of last season before the World Championships.

"Hopefully, it'll get resolved because I don't really like the image, but it has happened. It's going to be fine. It's very hard to have this little stain on my name.

"I would never take performance-enhancing drugs. I believe in talent, and I know I have the talent."

World Athletics rules stipulate that athletes will be guilty of a violation if they have a combination of three missed tests or filing failures across a 12-month period.

Athletes face up to a two-year ban for whereabouts violations.

World Athletics has launched a $500,000 fund alongside the International Athletics Foundation (IAF) to help athletes affected financially by the coronavirus pandemic.

The world of sport has been decimated by the outbreak of COVID-19, which has seen the Olympic Games in Tokyo postponed by a year until 2021.

That had a knock-on effect with the World Athletics Championships, originally scheduled for 2021 in Oregon, pushed back by 12 months, while the 2020 European Championships have been cancelled.

A World Athletics statement said the fund will be used to help athletes who have lost the majority of their income from the suspension of international competition.

Resources from the 2020 and 2021 budgets of the IAF, of which Prince Albert II of Monaco is honorary president, will be allocated to help athletes. 

World Athletics president and IAF chair Sebastian Coe will front "an expert multi-regional working group to assess the applications for assistance, which will be submitted through World Athletics' six Area Associations".

Olympic champion and 1500 metres world record-holder Hicham El Guerrouj and Olympic pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi are among the members of the working group, which will convene in the coming week for talks over how to award and distribute grants to individual athletes and to assess means of raising additional monies for the fund.

"I would especially like to thank Hicham for bringing this idea to us, and Prince Albert for his strong support of this project," Coe said. 

"I am in constant contact with athletes around the world and I know that many are experiencing financial hardship as a consequence of the shutdown of most international sports competition in the last two months. 

"Our professional athletes rely on prize money as part of their income and we're mindful that our competition season, on both the track and road, is being severely impacted by the pandemic. 

"We are hopeful that we will be able to stage at least some competition later this year, but in the meantime we will also endeavour, through this fund and additional monies we intend to seek through the friends of our sport, to help as many athletes as possible."

El Guerrouj added: "The pandemic is causing economic pain to people from all parts of society, including athletes, and this is a time when we must come together as a global community to help each other. 

"I am delighted that Seb and World Athletics reacted so positively to my suggestion that we create a fund for athletes, and have made it happen with the support of the International Athletics Foundation. 

"The suspension of competition has had a huge impact on many professional athletes because they can't earn prize money so I'm really pleased that we have found a way to assist them."

Prince Albert II said he hopes the initiative can help athletes continue preparations for next year's Games.

"I created more than 35 years ago the International Athletics Foundation with the late Primo Nebiolo to encourage and promote athletics and grant financial assistance to athletics federations and the most deserving athletes," he said. 

"Since its inception the Foundation has distributed for these purposes more than $30million. I am delighted that we can put our resources behind this initiative so we can make a difference to the lives of athletes who are suffering financially at this time. 

"We hope that this support will help those athletes preparing for international competition, including next year's Olympic Games, to sustain their training, support their families and that this will relieve them of some stress in these uncertain times."

The 2021 World Athletics Championships have been moved back to 2022 to accommodate the rescheduled Tokyo Olympic Games, governing body World Athletics has confirmed.

Last month, the International Olympic Committee elected to move Tokyo 2020 back 12 months in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

That announcement was made possible after World Athletics confirmed its willingness to move its own event and the championships originally slated for August 6-15 next year will now take place between July 15-24 next year, with Oregon still the location.

The new date has been selected so as not to clash with the Commonwealth Games and European Championships, with World Athletics president Sebastian Coe enthused by the exposure that will be generated for athletics during six weeks of back-to-back international competitions.

"This will be a bonanza for athletics fans around the world," he said in a statement.

"They will be treated to six weeks of absolutely first-class athletics. 

"More than 70 of our member federations are part of the Commonwealth and more than 50 of our member federations are European so our guiding principle in rescheduling the World Championships was to ensure enough space was created around the centrepiece World Athletics Championship for athletes to choose other major events to compete in.

"We were also very mindful that we did not want to damage the other major championships in 2022, because they are also very important to our sport."

World Athletics has named Cuba’s Ana Quirot winning gold medals at the 1995 and 1997 World Championships, among 10 of the greatest athletics moments of triumph over adversity.

Jamaica track and field superstar Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce already has one eye on defending her World Championship title on home soil, so to speak, with the 2021 edition set to be held in the North American region.

The 32-year-old created history at the last edition of the event in Doha, where she became the first woman to win four 100m world titles.  Fraser-Pryce has captured the world title at the Berlin (2009), Moscow (2013), Beijing (2015) and Doha (2018) World Championships.

Even though it is the Tokyo Olympics that is on the immediate horizon, the diminutive sprinter admits it is hard not to try and take a peek a little further ahead, an event that is likely to be her last major games appearance.

“After Tokyo, I am the defending champion at the world championships in Eugene and that is so close to home,” Fraser-Pryce told the AFP.

“It’s a few hours [flight] from Jamaica and to be able to end a career close to home, where I can have most, if not all, of my family in attendance, would be the highlight of my career,” she added.

“I am taking it a year at a time. After Tokyo, I can make that decision.”

Retired Jamaica sprint legend Usain Bolt admits to missing the sport of athletics and once mulled the idea of coming out of retirement but was convinced he had made the right decision by his former coach Glen Mills.

Bolt, considered in many arenas as the greatest sprinter of all time, amassed stellar achievements in a career that lasted well over a decade.  In addition to holding the world record over both the 100m and 200m sprints, the Jamaican claimed 8 Olympic gold and 11 World Championship medals.

His soaring career might, however, be said to have ended on somewhat of a low after finishing third at the 2017 World Championships and failing to finish in the 4x100m relay. 

 "I talked to my track coach," Bolt told CNN Sport's Coy Wire. "And he was like, 'No, you're not doing it. People that retire and come back -- it doesn't always work out.'

The sprinter, who suffers from scoliosis of the spine, was quick to admit that he also did not miss the grueling training needed to compete at the highest level.

"For me, at the end I knew it was time because the drive wasn't there. But every time I watch track and field I miss it. And every time I go to the track to see my coach and I watch him training I go, 'Did I make the right decision?' ... But every time I train with them I think, 'Ah yeah I made the right decision. I don't miss this.'"

The IAAF has announced sweeping changes to the Diamond League schedule in a move intended to boost its value to broadcasters.

In plans revealed on Wednesday, the revised programme for men and women does not feature the 200 metres, 3,000m steeplechase, discus or triple jump on its list of Diamond League official disciplines.

The world governing body carried out research ahead of the 2020 season and said the alterations were made to accommodate a 90-minute broadcast window.

Despite the 200m being cited as one of the most popular disciplines, that sprint event and the steeplechase will each only feature in 10 of the 14 regular meetings on the calendar – five times for men and five times for women – and will not have Diamond League status or feature in the Diamond League Final.

IAAF Diamond League chairman Sebastian Coe said: "Our objective is to create a faster paced, more exciting global league that will be the showcase for our sport. A league that broadcasters want to show and fans want to watch.

"However, we understand the disappointment of those athletes in the disciplines not part of the 2020 Diamond League season.

"We want to thank the 10 Diamond League meetings which have found a way to include the 200 metres or the 3,000-metre steeplechase, male and female, during the 2020 season and the four meetings hosting a discus throw competition or a triple jump competition."

Noah Lyles, who has won the men's 200m in each of the last three seasons, tweeted his apparent dismay at the decision, posting an image of cartoon character Lisa Simpson appearing surprised along with the words: "Wow no 200m".

Zurich will host the Diamond League Final in 2020 and 2021 as the series switches to a single-day format.

Christian Coleman revelled in being crowned the world 100 metres champion after sealing gold in Saturday's final in Doha.

The 23-year-old lit up the World Athletics Championships by recording the sixth fastest time in history, clocking an impressive 9.76seconds.

That effort saw him topple fellow American Justin Gatlin, who stood on top of the podium ahead of Coleman two years ago in London.

"World champion, it sounds incredible, too good to be true," said Coleman, who saw a case against him for reportedly missing three doping tests dropped by the United States Anti-Doping Agency earlier this month.

"For me to make it here and come out with a gold is incredible. I was just out of college two years ago and not many people expected me to win a silver. I expected to come out here and be great and upgrade my silver medal."

With the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo drawing ever closer, Coleman admitted he had allowed his mind to wander to thoughts of competing in Japan next year.

"It's hard to compartmentalise and not think about Tokyo – that's huge to go to an Olympics," he said.

"I will be expected to go there and medal but the work doesn't stop. Hopefully I can make the team."

At the age of 37, there are questions over whether this was Gatlin's last appearance on the global stage.

But, having run a time of 9.89secs to claim silver, the divisive sprint veteran was proud of his effort and revealed his plans to join Coleman in Tokyo.

"This season was a testament to my endurance and will," he said. "I had setbacks this season. I just wanted to stay focused on this race and give it all I got for this season.

"Christian has ran a spectacular season, great times. I couldn't say it was a shock that he would do a great job here. I had to hold on and stay strong in my technique."

Asked if he will be at the Olympics next year, he replied: "I'm coming. I'm going to be better. I'm ready."

Christian Coleman took World Athletics Championships gold in the men's 100 metres final with the sixth quickest time in history.

The American clocked 9.76seconds to get revenge on compatriot Justin Gatlin after finishing second to his rival in London two years ago.

Gatlin ran 9.89seconds, while Andre De Grasse was third in 9.90secs, but once again the action was played out against the backdrop of a largely empty stadium in Doha.

There were three other finals before the blue-riband event, with winners crowned in the women's hammer throw and 10,000m, and the men's long jump.

COOL COLEMAN IS DOHA'S SPRINT KING

Coleman went into Saturday's final as the clear favourite to win and never looked in danger of suffering an upset loss.

Quick out of the blocks and leading from the off, the 23-year-old set a world-leading time to secure the biggest win of his career.

His closest competition came from the divisive Gatlin who, at the age of 37, took silver as he surrendered his world title.

The top five – completed by Akani Simbine and Yohan Blake – all ran under 10 seconds.

 

GAYLE SEALS LONG JUMP TRIUMPH

Tajay Gayle's leap of 8.69m won him gold in the men's long jump, a full 30cm ahead of Jeff Henderson.

The Jamaican, who only narrowly qualified for the final, set a world-leading distance with his fourth attempt, which proved to be his last.

Olympic champion Henderson could only register 8.17m with his final effort, leaving him to settle for silver with a best jump of 8.39m.

Cuba's Juan Miguel Echevarria was third after posting a distance of 8.34m.

Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan prevailed in the 10,000m, with Ethiopia's Letesenbet Gidey and Kenya's Agnes Jebet Tirop rounding off the podium.

DeAnna Price sealed another gold for the USA in the women's hammer throw, with Joanna Fiodorow taking silver for Poland and Wang Zheng adding a bronze to China's medal tally.

USA CLAIM WORLD RECORD

The first world record of this championships went to America's mixed 4x400m relay team.

Tyrell Richard, Jessica Beard, Jasmine Blocker and Obi Igbokwe combined to run 3:12.42 on the event's maiden outing at this competition.

Jamaica came a close second, with Bahrain third.

Kevin Mayer has branded the World Athletics Championships in Doha "a disaster", citing the heat and a lack of fans.

The world champion decathlete did not hold back as he criticised the decision to award the event to the Qatari capital. 

Frenchman Mayer suggested it was only his "passion" for competition that prevented him from boycotting. 

"We can all see it's a disaster, there is no-one in the stands, and the heat has not been adapted at all," he said. 

"There have already been nearly 30 withdrawals in the women's marathon. It's sad.

"We have to leave reason aside and more concentrate on the passion, because if not I would have boycotted these championships.

"We haven't really prioritised athletes when organising the championships here. It makes it difficult."

The IAAF released a statement on Saturday insisting the local organising committee had "done everything possible to minimise the heat-related risks".

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