Jamaican Stars Stun the World: Watson and Williams Excel at World Athletics Championships
Antonio Watson and Danielle Williams showcased two extraordinary performances, joined by Canadian Camryn Rogers, as the NACAC Area enjoyed a highly successful sixth day on Thursday (24 Aug) at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23.
Watson and Williams defied expectations, emerging as the most notable achievers of the day. Antonio Watson, the second youngest competitor in the men’s 400m field, stunned the world by claiming gold in 44.22.
Despite initially holding around third place as he entered the homestretch, he surged ahead to outpace Matthew Hudson-Smith (GBR) at the finish line, clocking 44.31. “In the last 50 metres, I did not look at the other athletes. I was focusing on myself. I am excited I managed to go home with a victory,” Watson shared.
This season’s standout, Watson became the second Jamaican to clinch the men’s 400m title, following Bertland Cameron’s inaugural victory in 1983. “I am truly proud that I am bringing gold to Jamaica. This season has been amazing for me. After winning the world youth title in 2017, it’s incredible to clinch the gold medal at my first world senior championships,” Watson continued.
“I believed in myself. My coach guided me on what I needed to do, and I executed it. As you know, Usain Bolt holds the world record at 100m. He inspires 90 percent of Jamaicans who started track and field. He motivates me too. The focus now shifts to the 4x400m relay.”
Danielle Williams captured victory in the women’s 100m hurdles final with astonishing prowess. Leading from lane two, she secured her second title in 12.43, besting Jasmine Camacho-Quinn (PUR) with 12.44 and Kendra HARRISON (USA) with 12.46. “I still can’t believe I won against such a stellar field,” Williams expressed.
“I’ve been racing against these ladies all year, and they’ve been outpacing me at every turn. Yet, I possessed unwavering confidence in my training and abilities, never losing belief,” she added.
Reflecting on her 2015 Beijing victory, Williams noted, “Winning in 2015 was beyond belief. But this required immense hard work, years of dedication through injuries, moments of self-doubt, and the struggle to regain my confidence and make my way back to this stage. It’s incredible; Jamaica is a nation of pride, and winning is our passion. I thrive on victory.”
Camryn Rogers achieved a historic feat in Canadian hammer throwing, securing her country’s first-ever medal in the event at the World Athletics Championships. Just over a year later, Canada found itself atop the global order, celebrating two world champions. Following Ethan Katzberg’s breakthrough victory in the men’s final four days earlier, Rogers added another golden moment by triumphing in the women’s final.
Taking the lead with her opening throw of 77.22m, Rogers solidified her position at the top, ultimately securing victory. Her subsequent throws measured 77.07m, 76.75m, 75.68m, 76.22m, and 74.92m. American athletes Janee’ Kassanavoid secured silver with 76.36m, while DeAnna Price, the 2019 world champion from Doha and second on the world all-time list with 80.31m, earned bronze with a best effort of 75.41m in round five.
While Wayne Pinnock narrowly missed the gold medal and Tajay Gayle edged out Carey McLeod in his final attempt for a podium finish, the most uplifting news was that Jamaica would see two long jumpers on the podium. Pinnock secured silver with a distance of 8.50m, Gayle earned bronze with 8.27m, and McLeod placed fourth with the same distance. Miltiadis Tentoglou (GRE) claimed the gold with an impressive jump of 8.82m.
Pinnock shared, “It’s truly a dream come true. Observing athletes like Tentoglou inspired me as a youngster to reach the pinnacle. And now, I’m nearly there.”
Gayle expressed, “This ranks among the best days of my life, yet I’m certain I can achieve even more,” and he revealed, “Two weeks ago, I sustained a knee injury.”
The evening concluded with Shamir Little securing silver behind the Netherlands’ presumptive favorite, Femke Bol, in the 400m hurdles. With Sydney McLaughlin’s withdrawal from the hurdles and this year’s games, Bol lived up to her status as the woman to beat. She secured victory in the women’s 400m hurdles final with a dominant time of 51.70.
Little, who reached her first final in 8 seasons (going back to Beijing 2015), clocked 52.80 to earn her second silver medal ever, holding off Jamaica’s Rushell Clayton, who pushed through to take the bronze with a time of 52.81.
BY ANTHONY FOSTER FOR THE NACAC ATHLETICS