JAMAICA’S track and field team saved their best performance for yesterday’s final day of competition at the three-day World Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, picking up gold in the women’s 4x400 metres and a bronze by Kimberly Williams in the triple jump.
Jamaica ended 12th overall with one gold, and two bronze medals as Ethiopia topped the medal table with four gold, three silver and two bronze. The United States were second with three gold, seven silver and eight bronze, with Belgium closing out the top three with two gold medals.
In the final track event of the championships, the quartet of Junelle Bromfield, Janieve Russell, Roneisha MacGregor, and individual 400m bronze medallist Stephenie McPherson produced a big run to land gold in a season’s best three minutes 28.40 seconds. Jamaica entered the final with a qualifying time of 3:30.91, the slowest time from the semi-final heats but stunned their opponents in the final with some aggressive running on the indoor track.
With McPherson replacing Tiffany James in the final, the Jamaican women took the lead on the second leg and held off all challengers. Bromfield ran an excellent opening leg, giving Russell the baton just a couple metres behind in second place. Russell gradually eased to the front and handed over to McGregor, who also ran a brilliant leg. Running on the indoor circuit for the first time this season, McGregor kept her composure as the chasers snapped at her heels. She held her form well and maintained a narrow lead before sprinting away from her rivals over the last 30 metres to give McPherson what turned out to be a decisive lead. The veteran increased the lead to give Jamaica a memorable win. The Netherlands pocketed silver in 3:28.57, with Poland bagging bronze in 3:28.59. Pre-race favourites the United States, the fastest qualifiers from the heats, were shut out of the medals with a fourth-place finish.
The country picked up its first medal of the day in the morning session as triple jumper Kimberly Williams, the silver medallist in the event four years ago in Birmingham, England, picked up the bronze medal this time around after finishing third in a season’s best 14.62 metres. This event was highlighted by a World Indoor Record by Venezuela’s outstanding triple jumper Yulimer Rojas. The Olympic Games and World Outdoor champion broke her previous World Indoor mark of 15.43m with a massive new World mark of 15.74m. Maryna Bekh-Romanchuck of Ukraine took silver with a personal best of 14.74m.
There was disappointment for the Jamaican team in the women’s 800m final. Natoya Goule, ranked number two in the world in the event, was expected to win her first global title but finished fourth after leading for most of the way. She took control early and led for 600 metres before fading in the end to clock 2:01.18. American Ajee Wilson won the gold medal in 1:59.08. Freweyni Hailu of Ethiopia took second in 2:00.54, with Halimah Nakaayi of Uganda placing third in 2:00.66.
Jamaica’s other individual competitor on the final day, Olympic Games 110m hurdles bronze medallist Ronald Levy, failed to advance from the preliminary round of the men’s 60m hurdles after finishing fifth in his heat in 7.75 seconds.
The outstanding 22-year-old Swedish pole vaulter Armand Duplantis produced the second World Indoor Record of the championships after clearing 6.20 metres to break his previous mark of 6.18m.