Athletics-In-form sprinter Jackson ready to wipe away ‘third Jamaican’ tag

By Mitch Phillips

EUGENE, Oregon (Reuters) – Jamaican women sprinters, most often in the form of Elaine-Thompson Herah and Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, have ruled the roost for over a decade but Shericka Jackson has already shown her credentials as she bids to emerge from their superstar shadow.

Thompson-Herah completed the “double-double” when she took 100 and 200 metres gold at the Tokyo Olympics having done the same in Rio, while Fraser-Pryce has won the world 100m title four times and the Olympic 100m title twice.

Both though had to concede the limelight at this year’s Jamaican trials as Jackson completed an extraordinarily high-class double.

Jackson, who started racing the 100m seriously last year, blasted to victory in 10.77 seconds and though Fraser-Pryce, the only woman to go faster this year, missed the final, the 35-year-old has a fight on her hands in her bid for a fifth title.

It was the 200m that really got people talking, however, as Jackson flew round in 21.55 – the third-fastest of all time behind world record holder Florence Griffith Joyner (21.34) and the 21.53 of Thompson-Herah, who has yet to win an individual world gold.

“I know I had something special, but I never knew it was this special,” said Jackson, who predicted she would go faster in Eugene on what appears to be another super-speedy track.

“I made so many mistakes in the race. I have probably two and a half weeks, so see how fast I can go.”

It was all a far cry from last year’s Olympics when she committed the cardinal sin of easing up too early in her 200m heat and missed out on qualification – though she did come away with a bronze in the 100m as part of a Jamaican clean sweep.

Hoping to prevent a repeat of that will be Americans Melissa Jefferson and Aleia Hobbs, while the home country’s big hope in the 200 is Abby Steiner who won the US trials in 21.77 seconds – the world lead for a few hours before Jackson blew it away.

Britain’s defending 200m champion Dina Asher-Smith looks a yard off the pace at this stage of the season as Daryll Neita – now a regular under 11 seconds – completed a sprint double in the British qualifying races.

Namibia’s Christine Mboma, who took Olympic silver in the 200m in Tokyo as an 18-year-old after being forced to switch from the 400m because she breached differences in sex development (DSD) rules, has the third-fastest time this year with 21.87 but will miss Eugene with a thigh injury.

(Reporting by Mitch Phillips; Editing by Ken Ferris)