The meet which was held at Jamaica’s National Stadium on Saturday, April 23rd, debuted some of the world’s most coveted stars such as Hansle Parchment, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Fredrick Dacres.
Many of the athletes opened their season at Velocity Fest 11, a season which includes the 18th edition of the World Athletic Championships that will be held in Oregon in July.
The night’s premiere events, the 100m and 200m sprints, served up some slight surprises but nothing too off script, given the early nature of the season. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce opened her season with a 22.79s run for second place in the women’s 200m, finishing in between first placed Anthonique Strachan, who clocked a season best of 22.55s and Natasha Morrison who secured third with 23.06s.
After the race, Fraser-Pryce commented on her form and what she expects to achieve this season, especially in the 100m where she hopes to defend her title at this year’s World Championships.
“I’m definitely looking forward to running 10.5 and possibly 10.4…that is the aim,” she expressed after her race. “I think I am on my way to do that. I just have to continue to trust that God will give me the strength, trust In the coach and continue to put in the work.”
In the men’s 200m, there was a trifecta of finals, categorized from A to C. In Final A, Andre Dacres secured the win with a personal best of 21.22s. Final B saw Andre Miller winning with 20.97s and Final C saw former ISSA/Grace Boys’ and Girls’ Championship standout Antonio Watson clocking 20.56s for the win.
The 100m finals featured the likes of former Calabar star Tyreke Wilson, former world champion Yohan Blake and another former Champs star in the form of Sachin Dennis. However, it was a battle between the Blakes for 1st and 2nd, with 20-year-old Ackeem Blake setting a new personal best of 10.08s to clip Yohan, who finished second with a season’s best of 10.11s. Emanuel Archibald also clocked a personal best 10.18s to claim third place.
Olympic gold medalist Hansle Parchment reminded everyone why he is the best at the moment, winning the 110m hurdles final with an impressive 13.20s to open his season. The time was also registered as a world leading time as the 31-year-old gears up to attempt to be one of the few athletes to hold the Olympic and World title simultaneously.
Parchment was clearly satisfied after his race, stating that his season was off to an excellent start. “I’m humbled by this and I will not let it deter me from keeping my eyes on the ultimate prize. I’m thankful to my team, and supporters throughout this journey, later will be greater,” he said via Twitter.
The field events mustered up some more impressive displays, record breaking performances in fact, with the likes of national record holder Fedrick Dacres setting a new meet record of 65.98m to win the Men’s Discus Throw final. Shadae Lawrence also followed suit, setting a new meet record of 62.36m in the women’s Discus Throw.
O’Dayne Richards threw 19.03m to win the Men’s Shot Put final, while youngsters Kobe Lawrence of Calabar and Brandon Gayle of St. Jago threw for 17.32m and 16.26m for second and third, respectively.
The night was a great glimpse of the shape some of Jamaica’s top athletes are in. Though we were not able to witness the full scale of stars that the island has to offer, the meet gave an opportunity for some to start their season on the right footing.