NACAC – Teenagers Clayton, Reid and Hibbert lead Jamaica to top honours in San Jose

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Photo: Mike Maassen

Sixteen-year-old Tina Clayton produced the most outstanding performance over the weekend (9-11) as her team Jamaica dominated the NACAC U23 and U18 Championships, the first of the area’s regional events in 17 months.

Clayton improved her 100m personal best from 11.25 to 11.17 to claim gold in the U18 category. Despite her impressive time, the best by world ranking standards, the mark was not among the 17 championship records broken at Costa Rica’s National Stadium. Her countrywoman and 2018 world U20 champion Briana Williams kept her 11.11 time clocked at the previous edition in Mexico in 2019.

A world leader among U18 athletes, Clayton’s 11.17 places her third fastest among U20 athletes in 2021, behind fellow Jamaicans Williams (10.97) and Ackera Nugent (11.09).

Two other 16-year-old Jamaicans also left their mark in San Jose. Alana Reid ran 23.78 for 200m gold and became the first U18 woman to break 24 seconds at the championships. Reid also anchored her team to the 4x100m title in 45.49. She was joined by 100m silver medallist Serena Cole, Clayton and Kerrica Hill.

World leader Jaydon Hibbert broke the 16-metre barrier with a 16.02m leap in the triple jump, a 34cm improvement on his previous best.

The world’s fastest U20 sprint hurdler and fourth-fastest ever, Nugent, returned to the regional event where she placed second in the U18 category and to the same stadium where she claimed silver at the Pan American U20 Championships in 1999. The 2021 NCAA bronze medallist easily dominated the 100m hurdles in 13.64, despite a strong headwind of -2.2m/s.

Sprint hurdler Orlando Bennett (13.65), 400m specialist Charokee Young (52.06) and long jumper Shakwon Coke (7.88m into a -2.6m/s wind) also shone for Jamaica, all in the U23 category. Alicke Cranston also impressed with his 10.42 winning time in the 100m.

Alexander Ogando, member of the bronze medal-winning team for the Dominican Republic at the 2021 World Athletics Relays in Poland, impressed on the final day by winning the 200m in 20.59, just 0.05 shy of his personal best. Ogando, who has run 45.01 for 400m, will be a key piece in his country’s mixed relay at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

With the CARIFTA Games suspended two consecutive years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the regional championships opened an elusive competitive opportunity for U20 athletes in the region. Eighteen-year-old Bahamian Camille Rutherford took the sprint double in 11.36 and 23.42, a personal best at the longer distance.

National record-holder and Tokyo-bound Jonathan Jones won one of the five gold medals for Barbados by covering the one-lap race in 46.20, in a close battle with Jamaica’s 2018 world U20 silver medallist Christopher Taylor, who was second with 46.58. Taylor is also qualified for the Summer Games.

Shiann Salmon, Taylor, 100m silver medallist Odaine Mcpherson and Young joined their efforts to set a new standard of 3:20.71 in the mixed relay, contested for the first time at the championships. Their Jamaican teammates Kishay Rowe, Roshawn Clarke, Oneika Brissett and Delano Kennedy set the new time of 3:25.27 in the U18 category.

Juan Diego Castro led the home team with a victory in the 800m in 1:48.82. Fourth at the 2017 World U18 Championships, he has improved his national record in both the 800m and 1500m. His 17-year-old compatriot Sharon Lisseth Herrera set a meeting record in the 5000m race walk with 23:18.14.

In the same event, Guatemala’s Yasury Betzayda Palacios rewrote the record books with a 22:31.13 effort in the U23 category. In total 13 records were broken, plus the two mixed relays.

With 61 athletes, Jamaica dominated the medal tally with 67 medals (39 gold, 18 silver and 10 bronze), ahead of the host nation (19-20-23=62) and Bahamas (17-18-7=42). All 19 participating nations won at least one medal. Due to Covid restrictions, some regional powerhouses did not attend, including the United States, Canada, Cuba and Mexico. The championship was streamed live by two local channels.

Source: Javier Clavelo Robinson for World Athletics

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