In the world of track and field, the 400m hurdles is an event that combines speed, stamina, and precision. For Jamaica, a nation renowned for its sprinting prowess, achieving excellence in this gruelling discipline has been a long journey.

Winthrop Graham, the former national record holder and Olympic silver medallist, recently expressed his delight and satisfaction in seeing two young Jamaican athletes finally break the 48-second barrier in the 400m hurdles—a milestone he believes was long overdue.

Graham's illustrious career includes setting a national record of 47.63 seconds at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, where he secured a silver medal behind Kevin Young's world record-breaking performance of 46.78 seconds. A year later, at the World Championships in Helsinki, Graham slightly improved his record to 47.60 seconds, earning another silver medal. This record stood unchallenged for three decades, a testament to Graham's remarkable talent and perseverance.

However, the 2023 World Championships in Budapest marked a turning point for Jamaican hurdling. During the semi-finals, Roshawn Clarke smashed Graham's long-standing record, heralding a new era for Jamaica in the event. Less than a year later, Malik James-King joined the elite club of 47-second hurdlers, delivering a stunning lifetime best of 47.42 seconds at the national championships, dethroning Clarke as the reigning champion.

Witnessing these historic performances from the sidelines, Graham was overwhelmed with joy. "I was sitting watching with a big smile," Graham told Sportsmax.TV. "Because, more than anyone else probably, I am absolutely excited to see them performing like that. This was way overdue."

While Clarke finished second to James-King with a time of 48.04 seconds with Jaheel Hyde knocking at the door with a season’s best 48.35, Graham remains confident in Clarke's potential. "For sure, I watched his races last year and I watched his races now and I can tell he is not where he should be but he will get there. I mean, it is still early in the season. Usually, this is the time you start fine-tuning your steps and I can tell he is not exactly where he was last year but you can tell his strength and speed are there, it's just about getting the technique together."

Graham's insights reflect his deep understanding of the sport and his faith in the next generation of Jamaican hurdlers. He believes the fierce competition between James-King and Clarke will drive both athletes to new heights. "It was an absolutely unbelievable finish from Malik James-King to run the time he ran but it is good to have two athletes to push each other. I wish I had that."

The Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) and Supreme Ventures Limited have rekindled their partnership with fresh five-year agreement, which both views as a cornerstone of their collective efforts to promote and develop the sport.

JAAA’s president Garth Gayle said the agreement valued at $25 million will go a far way in assisting his administration to offset expenses for the National Championships, which gets underway on Thursday, among other things, as they strive to ensure the best output for those under their charge.

Supreme Ventures began sponsoring the annual national track and field championships in 2004, and only took a break once in 2017, before returning a year later with a $10 million deal, and has never left since then.

“Supreme Ventures has laid the foundation for a fruitful and continuous relationship. We are very proud of what took place in the past and what will take place going forward. We are very grateful for their gesture and commitment of five years. As the governing body for athletics we cannot do it alone and while we operate within the guidelines and construct of rules and guidelines, at times we had to make adjustments but in consultation with our stakeholders,” Gayle said during a press conference at the JAAA’s offices on Wednesday.

“So this will go a very far way because I don't think the public understands how costly it is to put on a track and field, and an event such as our National Championships. It is a considerable amount of money and so the contribution by Supreme Ventures will go a far way in assisting us to make the event successful. 

“What you are witnessing is the continued cooperation between the JAAA and an excellent philanthropic company Supreme Ventures. We want to work for the betterment of track and field in Jamaica. The JAAA is a caring organisation, and so we work with our partners to achieve the best for all concerned,” he added.

Kamal Powell, head of marketing at SVL explained that the betting company’s longstanding support for sports in Jamaica, particularly track and field, facilitates the consistency required, offering the resources needed to excel on the global stage. 

“We understand that the journey of an athlete is one of dedication, perseverance and the relentless pursuit of excellence. From grassroots initiatives to supporting major national teams, our commitment to Jamaican sports has been unwavering. We have seen firsthand the incredible talent and potential of our athletes and we are dedicated to providing them with the resources and support they need to excel on the global stage,” Powell said.

“Our contribution is not just an investment in sports, it's an investment in the country and the country's future. By supporting our athletes, we're fostering the culture of excellence, discipline and perseverance. We believe that this commitment will help our athletes to achieve their dreams and allow them to continue to bring glory to the Jamaica and the world stage,” he added.

Jereem Richards, the 2022 World Indoor 400m champion, will contest only the half-lap sprint at the Trinidad and Tobago National Championships set for June 25-26 at the Hasley Crawford Stadium in Trinidad and Tobago.

Following an impressive season-best run over 400m at the second JAAA/SDF Jubilee Saturday night, Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Candice McLeod revealed that she has been working on a new race plan that she believes could make even faster than she was in 2021.

Inside the National Stadium in Kingston, the well-chiselled McLeod exploded at the 250m mark and pulled away from the field to win handsomely in 50.58. In her devastating wake were the Sprintec pair of Tiffany James and Ashley Williams, who ran 52.10 and 53.40 for second and third, respectively.

McLeod’s winning time was the third-fastest by a Jamaican woman behind Charokee Young (49.87) and Stacey-Ann Williams (50.21).

Surprisingly, she was pleased but not overly impressed with the performance.

 “I feel okay but I feel like I have a little more (to give). I feel like I was just working on what we have been working on in training,” she said following the victory.

The new race plan that she and coach Fitz Coleman has been putting together is intended to take her to the next level because despite running a massive personal best of 49.51 at the Olympics last summer, McLeod feels as if she needs to suffer to get the best out of her body.

“Honestly, even when I ran 49.5, I never felt like I gave it my all. I didn’t feel the leg pain, the headaches and whatever so I feel like I didn’t do enough,” she explained.

“I have always wanted to feel at my maximum regardless of what it feels like. I want to feel like I am dying so I felt like I needed to switch it up a bit to get that dying feeling. Today wasn’t bad, it still wasn’t there but it’s getting there.”

That plan has been coming together since the outdoor season began earlier this year when she opened with 51.78 at the MVP Velocity Fest meet in Kingston on April 2 before flying off to Bermuda where in extremely windy conditions on April 9, she clocked a solid 51.57. She was second in both races to the 2019 World Championship 400m bronze medallist Shericka Jackson.

The University of the West Indies accounting graduate followed up on April 23 with what was then a season-best 51.20 in Kingston.

However, just over a week ago, on May 13, the 25-year-old Olympic finalist ran her worst race of the season clocking 52.37 in a fifth place finish at the Doha Diamond League meeting. Despite the poor showing, McLeod said that race was important to her plans for this season even if things didn’t work out as planned.

“I needed Doha because after the 51.2 here, I needed to see if I could get it (the race plan) in play but, unfortunately, I didn’t do what I wanted to, so I came today even though it wasn’t part of the schedule to run,” she said while explaining what went wrong in Doha.

“It was the wind. It was bad execution by me too. Bad judgement of the wind and as for recovery, I am not too keen or known to recover well after travel but I am working on that. It takes time.”

She expressed confidence that most, if not everything, will fall into place by the time Jamaica’s National Championships roll around in late June when she believes a new lifetime best is probable as she heads into the World Championships in Oregon just over two weeks later.

“With practise comes improvement,” she said. “Everybody wants to be better than they were before so if I get that (below 49.51) then, wow. If I get 49.5, then wow again, but I am working towards just bettering myself,” said McLeod who is relishing the prospect of going up against the best that Jamaica has to offer, namely Young, Williams and defending national champion, Stephenie-Ann McPherson.

“I am very confident in my preparation, my conditioning and everything. I love competition. It’s all fun for me because I love what I do, so regardless, competition or not, I am here for it,” she said.

 

 

 

Olympic bronze medallist, Candice McLeod, says her success on the track this season was due mainly to getting more rest and a proper diet during the pre-season.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.