Could Richardson rain on Fraser-Pryce's Olympic parade?

By August 17, 2020

Had it not been for the pandemic, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics would have been done and dusted 10 days ago and sports fans across the world would still be gathering around water coolers and office enclosures buzzing about the spectacular show put on by the world’s greatest athletes.

Closer to home, many of us in the Caribbean would still be basking in the performances of some of our own people. Shaunae Miller-Uibo would probably have been the Olympic 200m champion, Tahjay Gayle would probably have followed up his impressive gold-medal performance in Doha with another spectacular showing.

The men’s 100m would have been a bust for the Caribbean with the USA’s Trayvon Brommell upgrading his 2015 bronze to a gold medal. I say this because Cristian Coleman would likely have missed the games due to his whereabouts violations and Justin Gatlin can only outrun time for so long.

The women’s 100m? Well, that would perhaps be the race of the Games. Just thinking about what could have been, whets the appetite for what could be in the summer of 2021.

Right off the bat, we know that Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce would be the favourite. Even though she will be 34 and a half by then, we all know that when the Pocket Rocket is healthy, she is hard to beat in a final.

In six Olympics and World Championships 100 finals that she has won over the years, Fraser-Pryce has run times of 10.78, 10.73, 10.75, 10.71, 10.76 and 10.71.

In the finals she did not win, she was always in the mix. At the World Championships in Daegu in 2011, she was coming off an injury and minor surgery, which hampered her preparation, and even then, she led until the final third before fading to fourth in 10.99s running into a -1.4m/s wind.

Five years later, running with an injured big toe at the Olympic Games in Rio, she held off Marie Jose-Ta Lou for the bronze in 10.86.

In short, Fraser-Pryce is a warrior who does not know when she is beaten.

However, in 2021, she will likely have the toughest fight of her life if she is to win an unprecedented third Olympic 100m title.

Of course, she will have to go through the reigning Olympic champion Elaine Thompson, who is still capable of times like the 10.71 she ran to win the first half of her sprint double in Rio four years ago.

Thompson, when healthy, also has a winning record in a head-to-head with Fraser-Pryce.

Then there is the loveable British speedster Dina Asher-Smith, who told me earlier this year she wanted to break that 10.8-barrier in time for Tokyo 2020. She now has an extra year to achieve that goal.

However, notwithstanding the pedigree of these two women, potentially, the biggest threat to the veteran Jamaican is a youngster from Dallas, Texas, who goes by the name of Sha’carri Richardson.

Last year, Richardson, then 19, ran a very fast 10.75 to win the NCAA Division I title. It was a U20 world record that thrust the youngster into the global spotlight. Then just last week, she ran a personal best 22.00 over the 200m at the Montverde Academy in Florida.

In between, she has wind-aided 100m times of 10.94, 10.79, and 10.83 plus a wind-legal time of 10.95. The thing with Richardson is that she is already one of the fastest women ever.

She is faster than Asher-Smith whose PB is 10.83 and is already almost as fast as the 10.70, the personal bests of both Fraser-Pryce and Thompson.

Had the Olympics been held this year, maybe winning the 100m title would have been just out of her reach. However, with an extra year to prepare, an extra year when Justin Gatlin can boost her confidence and Dennis Mitchell will hone her technique, you know she is going to be faster than ever.

How much, we will not know until they line up in Tokyo next year, but you have to believe that if she was capable of 10.75 at 19, she is likely to be even quicker two years later.

What we also don’t know is how she will respond to the pressure of taking on the fastest women in the world over two rounds and still bring her ‘A’ game in the finals against someone who has been won six of 8 major finals and others who have already been there and done that. Athletes like Ta-Lou, Ahoure, Okagbare, Schippers, Lalova and Briana Williams will make her work harder than she has ever had to in order to get to the finals.

Will those stacked heats be enough to deplete her reserves before she gets to the final?

Then, there is the occasion itself. The NCAA’s is one thing but the Olympic finals against more experienced opponents can be extremely daunting.

Will she be able to handle all that pressure and bring her best race against women, who are all more experienced at doing that, especially the woman trying to create history?

It depends.

Shelly has changed coaches. I asked Stephen Francis late last week if she was still with MVP. He was unable to comment but admits that she has not been training with the club for some time now.

Stephen Francis has prepared Fraser-Pryce for more than a decade, transforming her into what many believe to be the greatest female 100m sprinter in history.

Can Renaldo Walcott do the same? On the evidence of what we have seen in these past few weeks maybe he can. The thing is the Olympics are a different animal to some local meets.

Francis knows his charge inside out. He knows what works and what won’t. His intimate knowledge of her physicality and how to bring her to a peak in time for the finals gives her a distinct advantage over her rivals.

A ‘new’ coach might struggle to do that.

These unknowns are what makes this potential battle so intriguing and along with the other women vying for a title, makes the women’s 100m finals in Tokyo 2021, such a mouth-watering prospect.

As it stands, for me, Richardson is a clear and present danger to Fraser-Pryce’s bid to once more create Olympic history.

 

 

 

 

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

Related items

  • ISSA tasks coaches with saving 2021 Champs ISSA tasks coaches with saving 2021 Champs

    Jamaica’s Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) has sought consensus and some direction from high school coaches regarding the possibility of staging the popular Boys and Girls Championship next year.

    The event, which is typically staged in the month of March, was cancelled this year due to the credible threat of being a coronavirus super spreader event.  Since then, ISSA has announced the suspension of all school competitions scheduled for the Christmas term.

    With no creditable solutions coming to the fore as yet regarding the best possible ways to returning to the staging of high school sports, amidst the pandemic, concerns had been raised regarding the protentional of next year’s event being cancelled as well.

    In a letter issued to the coaches, ISSA was quick to point out that the December term cancellations had no impact on next year’s event.  But, in light of the need to satisfy restrictive COVID-19 protocols for staging the event, the body also pointed out that creative solutions were needed in order to host the competition.

    “ISSA has cancelled all ISSA competitions scheduled for the 2020 Christmas term.  This decision, however, does not have any impact on the staging of the 2021 ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Championships,” the letter read.

    “However, the national COVID-19 protocols dictate that if Champs 2021 is to be a reality, then adjustments have to be made to the general structure and scheduling of the meet.  These changes could possibly have implications for the number of athletes, classes, events and days of Champs 2021,” it continued.

    “We, therefore, invite each group of regional coaches (as per Regional Meets, Western, Central, Eastern, Corporate) to meet virtually amongst themselves and discuss possible suggestions as to what the 2021 ISSA/GraceKennedy Champs may look like in the context of COVID-19.  It is expected that from the regional discussions, coaches will submit their suggestions via an appointed team leader by email.”

    The coaches will have until October 2, to submit their suggestions.

  • Uncertainty surrounding volleyball restart continues to hurt players Uncertainty surrounding volleyball restart continues to hurt players

     The onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic led to sports coming to a standstill in March.  Since then quite a few have restarted. Horse racing restarted back in June. The first Test cricket match between the West Indies and England began in early July. The Jamaica synchro team started recruiting and training swimmers last month.

    For some, however, the silence surrounding their immediate future is deafening.  And, in the meantime, athletes continue to suffer significant losses from a lack of opportunity.  As of now, volleyball is one of those sports.

    Middle blocker for the Venus Volleyball Club, Rojey Hutchinson, is an athlete who finished university recently and was hoping to gain more from sports competitions right after.

    Hutchinson graduated from the University of Technology (UTech), Jamaica, in late 2019, and secured his diploma in mechanical engineering.

     He attended the university on a volleyball scholarship and has never forgotten that fact. “Volleyball got me where I am today. It gave me the opportunity to travel, experience different cultures, and gave me the opportunity to attend university on a volleyball scholarship,” Hutchinson explained.

     After completing his studies at UTech, Hutchinson looked forward to competing in the Venus International tournament that was scheduled to take place on March 20 – 22. However, due to the onset of the virus, the tournament was cancelled.

     The cancellation of the event that would have featured seven male and eight female teams— from Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, USA, and Jamaica, adversely affected Hutchinson. Admittedly, he looks forward to the tournament every year and knew he could have readily exploited the opportunities presented to him during this time since school was out of the way.

    He explained, “the Venus International Tournament is something we as volleyballers look forward to every year. We get to meet people and see the way they play volleyball. The tournament is played at a higher level than what we are used to in Jamaica with our local teams.”

    “It helps me to be more selective with my shots and it also helps me to be more disciplined on the court. We are playing against some of the top clubs in countries that are very good at volleyball and some of these guys played in the pro league and also on their national team.”

    The volleyballer, who has been playing with the Venus Volleyball Club for five years, says he hasn’t been training and has “no idea when volleyball will resume.”

    And neither does the Jamaica Volleyball Association (JaVA).

    According to JaVA, they cannot say for sure when volleyball competitions will resume since they’re still having discussions with the Ministry of Sport.

     

    Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

     

  • World-leading run gets Thompson-Herah excited for next year's Olympic Games World-leading run gets Thompson-Herah excited for next year's Olympic Games

    Elaine Thompson-Herah said Thursday’s 100m win at the Diamond League meeting in Rome revealed what she needs to work on for next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

    Thompson-Herah ran a world-leading 10.85s in a dominating performance at the Diamond League meeting in Rome. She was metres clear of the USA’s Aleia Hobbs (11.12) and the Ivory Coast’s Marie-Josee Ta Lou, the bronze medallist from last year’s 100m final at the World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

    Thompson, who finished fourth in Doha in 10.93, said her performance on Thursday told her all she needed to know.

    “I leave here with the world-leading time, I'm super excited,” she said.

    “This tells me where I am at the end of this season, and tells me how I can prepare for next year. I am super excited.”

    The Covid-19 pandemic enforced a lot of changes to the track season and Thompson-Herah admitted that it has been challenging. However, she has managed to find the motivation she needs while looking forward to the Olympics where she intends to defend her Olympic double from Rio 2016.

    “This year required more adjusting, and my goal was to push back and to motivate myself,” she said. “I am a double Olympic champion, so I want to be in my top form next season. We had some competitions in Jamaica, but obviously, the field was not as strong as it is here.”

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.