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Caribbean sprinting year in review

28 December 2005

The Caribbean region displayed yet another remarkable year of sprinting in 2005, despite winning just one gold medal in this category at an IAAF major championship.

Blessed with speedsters such as Jamaica's Asafa Powell, who lit-up the men's division with an astonishing world record in the 100-metres, Chandra Sturrup and Tonique Williams-Darling from the Bahamas, as well as Veronica Campbell of Jamaica, the region enjoyed highly rated positions for both indoor and outdoor on the IAAF world top list.

Powell's world record led the men's performance

For sure, Powell's remarkable performance in Athens, where he erased American Tim Montgomery's 9.78 seconds world record, stands out as the most accomplished feat on the track for the region this year. Powell cemented his dominance over the dash by clocking four of the top ten sub-10 seconds timings this season, including a stunning 9.77sec run during the IAAF Super Grand Prix meeting at the Olympic Stadium on June 14.

"I'm very happy that I achieved this performance. I knew I could break the world record and I am very happy I succeeded," the Jamaican said after winning the race.

However, Powell was robbed of a possible gold medal at the 10th IAAF World Championships in Helsinki, Finland later in the year after pulling-up injured in the right groin at the Crystal Palace meet on July 22 in London.

Collins - St Kitts hero shows his class

St Kitts and Nevis' star sprinter Kim Collins' remarkable turn around in the latter part of this season to capture the bronze in Helsinki, has proved that the former world champion has been one of the sport'smost under-rated sprinters.

In the build up to the World Championships this summer, Collins was not seen as a serious treat to the likes of Powell, American Olympic champion Justin Gatlin and his training partner Shawn Crawford for a medal.

However, Collins battled through the pundits and peaked at just the right time to take a bronze medal in the 100m finals in 10.05, behind Gatlin (9.88) and Jamaica's surprise silver medallist Michael Frater, who also ran 10.05.

"People had forgotten all about me," said Collins after winning the bronze in Helsinki. "But that’s the way I like it. It makes me come down the middle when no one is looking for me."

Collins was also fruitful in the indoor season with a season best time of 6.54 seconds achieved in Birmingham, where he finished second to American Leonard Scott.

Clement eclipsed Johnson's 10 year-old indoor mark

Trinidad-born Kerron Clement may not be competing for the region, but his 44.57 world record run to break the great Michael Johnson mark in the 400m at the NCAA Indoor Championships still stands-out in the Caribbean performance review.

"This is amazing….I can't describe how I feel right now….I wanted to cry….I have it," were the words the American runner used to describe his amazing run in Fayetteville on March 10.

The University of Florida sophomore erased Johnson's 10 year-old mark of 44.63 to highlight the second day of the Championships.

Credit to others too

Other notable displays in the men's department were career bests from Bahamas' Christopher Brown (44.48sec) for fourth in the 400m finals in Helsinki; Trinidadians Marc Burns (9.96sec) and Darrel Brown (9.99sec) in the 100m; Churandy Martina (10.10 and 20.32) as well as Dwight Thomas' (10.00). Despite the disappointment of Jamaican teenage sensation Usain Bolt at the Worlds, one is reminded of his greatness by looking back at his 19.99 seconds in the 200m in London and the ease in which he captured the CAC crown earlier in the year.

Williams-Darling found new rival

Bahamas' Tonique Williams-Darling was surprisingly the only gold medallist in the sprints for the Caribbean at the world championships this season. Jamaica's double gold medallist Veronica Campbell was another strong contender for gold in the women's division, but unfortunately for her she managed only a fourth place finish in the event.

In the meantime, Williams-Darling's year was not as relaxed as she had planned. Following the disposal of long-time rival Ana Guevara of Mexico, which ended the Mexican's quarter-mile powerhouse streak of 28 successive wins, Williams-Darling found a new rival this year in Jamaican-born American sprinter Sanya Richards.

Adding World crown to Olympic title

After playing a secondary role to Richards throughout the season, the Bahamian came from behind over the last 50 metres in the 400m finals in Helsinki to upset the year's world leader and pre-event favourite in 49.55, which saw her adding the World title to the Olympic crown she won last summer in Athens, Greece.

"Victory was due to my faith in God. He's been with me all my career the Olympic champion said after her victory.

"I never worried about who was in front or behind me and with 50-metres to go I felt like I had something extra."

Sturrup's career best highlighted her season

Fellow Bahamian Chandra Sturrup also had a productive year, despite failing to fulfill a promising start to her season. After dismissing all her rivals early in the season, including 2000 Sydney Olympic triple gold medallist Marion Jones twice in four days, and running a blistering year-best time of 10.84sec, the Bahamian veteran Sturrup faded badly to slip back to fourth at 11.09 in Helsinki.

No gold, but workman-like season from Campbell

Like Sturrup, Campbell had a hot and cold season. Although losing a remarkable long winning streak in the 200m to American Allyson Felix, the 2004 Olympic champion finished the year as the best female performer in the world for the sprints in the indoor season and held her own during the outdoor campaign.

Apart from her defeats to Felix and her silver in the 100m at the Worlds, Campbell was superb on the track. A flashing 22.38 in her only 200m run during the indoor season in Birmingham set the pace for all her rivals to follow. That performance backed up her 7.05 world-leading run in Fayetteville the week before.

During the outdoor season Campbell registered times of 10.85 (2nd fastest) and 22.35, while leaving Helsinki with two silvers, one in the 100m and the other in the 4x100m relay.

It was also a good indoor season for Tiandra Ponteen of St Kitts and Nevis and Grenadian Hazel-Ann Regis, who were among four women that went under 51 seconds for 400m. Campbell was also among the mix, clocking 52.24 to be the third fastest Caribbean runner in the indoor season. In the 200m, Fana Ashby (22.91) of Trinidad and Tobago was one of nine athletes under 23 seconds.

Other good performances on the women's side this year came from Jamaica's Sherone Simpson (10.97), Cayman Islands' Cydonie Mothersill, who had an excellent year on the circuit and Christine Amertil from Bahamas. St. Vincent and Grenadines' young prodigy Kineke Alexander also had a creditable season, which saw her lowering her country's national 400m record. She was also an all-American during the 2005 NCAA Indoor Championships.

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