The big Jamaican snub

Jamaica won 22 medals – 10 gold, four silver and eight bronze – at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games, their best-ever haul. All their medals, including one from EAD sports, came from athletics but with the Commonwealth Games coming so late in the season, they had a reason to keep their best at home in preparation for next year’s World Championships.

Given the depth of talent in their ranks, they might still make an impact in New Delhi but by naming several athletes who do not even feature among the top-five in Jamaica, the country perhaps, wanted to show where their priorities are at the moment.

Usain Bolt, the brightest jewel in world athletics at the moment, withdrew from the Games long back and his fellow sprinters Nesta Carter – the fastest this year with a 9.78 second dash – Yohan Blake, Mario Forsythe and Michael Frater have all followed suit, leaving Oshane Bailey, Leron Clarke and Rasheed Dwyer to lead their nation’s challenge.

All three rank way behind the leaders in this season’s lists with the 29-year-old Clarke being the quickest of the three at 10.10. Bailey has a 10.11 and Dwyer 10.29 as their season’s best performances.

In the men’s 200M, Ramon McKenzie, with a personal best of 20.56 seconds, spearheads
the Jamaican challenge with Lansford Spence (20.63) and Steve Slowly (PB 21.29) being the other runners.

Top Jamaican women sprinters -- Veronica Campbell-Brown, Kerron Stewart, defending champ Sherone Simpson -- are all out of the Games with Yanique Booth, basically a hurdler, Shannia Thomas and Audra Segree — all absent in this year’s top lists -- making up the sprinting component.

Quartermilers Shericka Williams, Novlene Williams-Mills and Kailese Spencer, the top three in Commonwealth this season, will also skip the Games and it is up to Kenia Sinclair (800M) and Nickeisha Wilson (400M hurdles) to bring a bit of star power to Delhi.

Sinclair is ranked third in this year’s list while Wilson is a double gold medallist at the recent Continental Championships in Split, having won the 4x400 gold besides the hurdles. Trecia Smith, a former world champion in triple jump, is another with a touch of class.

Jamaica had swept the men’s and women’s sprints and sprint hurdles besides the sprint relays at the Melbourne 2006 Games. Their indifference this time is surprising given the fact that Michael Fennell, the president of the Commonwealth Games Federation, hails from Jamaica and is also the president of that country’s Olympic association.

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