When the smoke clears from the starter’s gun, and the clock stops in the 2022 World Championships 200 m women’s race tonight, it is hard to see Jamaica getting anything less than two medals. The most ambitious among us may even suggest a clean sweep, to help Jamaica create another line in the history books after taking all the medals in the 100 meters finals four nights ago.
The gold medal is not for Jamaica to win, they have to do something to lose it, based on the characters they have performing on athletics’ biggest stage in Eugene.
While achieving the sweep is not impossible, it will take an improved performance from Elaine Thompson-Herah to pull off what would be another historic feat for Jamaica, considering the showing of her two compatriots. Based on form and performance so far, Thompson-Herah has not produced the scintillating brilliance we saw at the last Olympics, where she won both individual events.
Coming off such a magnificent run and going so close to Flo Jo’s 100 m record, many anticipated a much better performance from the Olympic champion. But lest we forget, Thompson-Herah showed that she could be a big-time performer when least expected. Going into the 2020 Olympics, she was third in the 100 and 200 meters, yet she produced her brilliance to become champion.
In Beijing, Thompson-Herah took the silver in the 200. This is the best she has done in an individual event at World Championships. She is therefore hungry for the ultimate prize and should be motivated to do something special.
Five-time World 100 m champion, Shelly-Fraser-Pryce is in her sixth championship. Her place as the best 100m runner in the history of the games has already been cemented. She has gotten glory in the 200 m only once when she took the top prize in Moscow in 2013. With the momentum from the 100 meters and her performance in the qualifying stages, it would be a miracle if Fraser-Pryce is left off the 200 m podium. Shelly-Ann depends a lot on her speed and bullet start to give her the needed advantage for the first 100 m of the 200, and once she can maintain her finishing, she will be hard to beat. Mentally, she is also in a great place and will carry that momentum into the race.
It would be an understatement to say that national champion Shericka Jackson was disappointed in not winning the World 100 m title on Monday. After the race, she didn’t hide her feelings either, as she stood in disbelief while her teammates celebrated. She defeated her two country rivals in Jamaica last month and was no doubt hoping for a repeat of her national trials glory.
The 100 m race is now history, and the former 400 m runner is looking to make amends in the 200 m race. Her inexperience in the event showed up at the last Olympics when she slowed down near the end and was eliminated. There were no such mistakes this time around in Eugene. She won her qualifying races with ease and poise.
At the Jamaican trials, Jackson ran 21.55 to claim the third-fastest time in 200 m history. Only Florence Griffith-Joyner (21.34) and Thompson-Herah (21.53) have done better.
No one looked as fearless, focused, and determined as Jackson on the track right now. She hardly smiles and has approached her work to win with a purposeful and business-like attitude. She knows her strengths and will be using them to her advantage. In her semifinals, she cut back with 50 meters to go before securing first place with the best time of 21.67 seconds. Ato Boldon commenting on NBC, said: “We have to seriously start looking at the record books because if that was 21.67 from Jackson, she is ready to run a lot faster.” Former 400 champion Sanya Richard-Ross who was born in Jamaica, was “shocked” at the time too.
However, Jackson said she was “definitely” not shocked by her performance. “As I said after the 100, the 200 is one of my favorite events. I am strong, and I am faster. It wasn’t surprising,” she told NBC.
Jackson has what no other runner in the finals has; the speed from the 100 and the endurance from the 400 meters. She is the only woman to medal in both and the second after American Fred Kerley.
If there should be spoilers in the Jamaica “sweep” party result, the world can look to two countries for its answer. Abby Steiner could pull off a stunner on home soil after finishing second in her semifinals behind Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith is the defending champion, and with a season-best of 21.96 in her semi-final, she could pull off a surprise to defend her title. Tamara Clarke of the USA won her semis ahead of Asher-Smith with a fast 21.95 and would also fancy her chance of spoiling the Jamaican party.
In the last 17 world championships, Jamaica has medaled in the 200 except for five. That record is tied with the USA, which also medaled in 12 championships. Jamaica has 14 medals; four gold, five silver, and five bronze medals. The USA has four gold, eight silver, and one bronze. Both teams have medaled multiple times twice. Jamaica in 1999 with Beverly McDonald and Merlene Frazer taking silver and bronze. Jamaica did it again in Beijing when current finalist Elaine Thompson-Herah and Veronica Campbell-Brown took silver and bronze, respectively. The USA doubled in 2005 (gold and silver) and 2011 (silver and bronze).
No team has ever swept the medals in the women’s 200 in World Championships history. Jamaica had a chance in 1999, but Juliet Campbell finished eighth. In 2005 LaTasha Colander of the USA placed fifth and eliminated the sweep that would have included Allyson Felix and Rachelle Boone-Smith.
Veronica Campbell-Brown spoiled the USA sweep in 2011 when she took gold ahead of three Americans. Carmelita Jeter and Felix got silver and bronze. In that same race, Jamaican Kerron Stewart finished fifth while her teammate Sherone Simpson placed eighth. Jamaica had another opportunity in Beijing in 2015, but Simpson failed to medal again as Thompson-Herah and Campbell-Brown picked up silver and bronze, respectively.
The anticipation is fever-pitched, and the world will stop for less than 30 seconds in Eugene on Thursday at 8:35 central, 11:35 eastern, and 10:35 Jamaican time. It should be a mouthwatering final for the ages.