As I read the various accolades given to young sprint sensation Jura Levy on The Caribbean Track and Field Forum and in the press, my mind kept going back to similar promising young sprinters and how history can be a cruel taskmaster. Metaphor aside, irony truly abounds in history.
And speaking of ironies, it certainly is interesting that the results of the women’s 400-meter hurdles at the 2002 IAAF World Junior Championships were reversed -- in a curiously exact way -- seven years later at the 2009 IAAF World Championships. In 2002, Lashinda Demus won that event in a junior championships record time (54.70). Melaine Walker placed second (56.03).
Fast forward to 2009 and we see Melaine winning that event in a championships record time, and the second fastest time in history, while Demus came in second. (Note: the USA’s Tiffany Ross, who placed fourth back then, is still struggling to reach the podium today.)
I have long been fascinated by the fact that of the four extremely promising juniors who made up Jamaica’s 4x100-meter relay team that ran the second fastest girls’ sprint relay time in history (43.40 seconds, a junior championship record) at the 2002 IAAF World Junior Championships, the two who seemed MOST likely to have succeeded at the senior level are still struggling (despite both making the finals of the 200-meter race at the 2009 IAAF World Championships), while the two “lesser lights” in 2002 are the ones who have achieved sprinting success at the highest level!!
If you recall, that 2002 gold medal-winning team was comprised of Sherone Simpson (lead-off), Kerron Stewart (backstretch), Anneisha McLaughlin (curve), and Simone Facey (anchor). I still recall the overwhelming pride I felt at watching Facey walk around the track with the Jamaican flag at the end of that dominating performance (in a manner similar to what she later did in Berlin in 2009)!!
If I were a betting man back in 2002, I would have staked much of what I owned that Anneisha and Simone would have been the ones enjoying the greatest international success today. I certainly would not have made any bet on Sherron Simpson or Kerron Stewart achieving the same great successes. And I would have good reason at that time to be confident in placing my bet!
Back in 2002, Anneisha McLaughlin was the amazing teenager who set an Under-17 Carifta Games 200-meter record (23.03 seconds) in the semi-finals of the 2002 Carifta Games, and who a couple of months later almost won the IAAF World Junior Championships 200-meter gold medal, and was barely nipped at the line. Her future seemed the most promising of all Jamaica’s Under-20 athlete then.
In the case of Simone Facey, she was the one who placed second (11.43 seconds) behind the USA’s Lauryn Williams (11.33 seconds) at that IAAF World Junior Championships. Kerron ran a good race, but could only manage fourth place (11.53) behind the USA’s Marshevet Hooker (11.48).
Sherone Simpson, a talented athlete even back then, was not in the finals of either the 100-meter or 200-meter individual races.
In one of those ironies that history is noted for, it is the two seemingly lesser athletes back then (certainly the least successful of the quartet), Sherone and Kerron, who have created waves on athletics’ biggest stage.
And so we see that Sherone became the fastest woman on the planet in 2006, and followed this up at the 2008 Olympic Games with a shining silver medal in the 100-meter dash. And even before that, she was the backstretch runner on her country’s 4x100-meter relay team who gave the great Marion Jones the race and scare of her life, and who 41.73 seconds later was celebrating, with her other three teammates, Jamaica’s first ever Olympic Games 4x100-meter gold medal.
In the case of the other “underdog” back in 2002, we see that Kerron today is boasting an Olympic Games 100-meter silver medal and 200-meter bronze medal (the 2008 olympic Games), and a gold medal as anchor on the 4x100-meter relay team at the 2009 IAAF World Championships!
Of course, I was elated by the fact that both Facey and Mclaughlin reached the finals of the 200-meter race at the 2009 IAAF World Championships, and that Facey won a gold medal as the lead-off runner on the 4x100-meter relay team at those championships. Nevertheless, she got her big moment here largely through default -- Veronica Campbell’s intransigence.
In 2011, it is hard to hide the fact that both Simone Facey and Anneisha Mclaughlin, for whatever reasons, have been unable to sustain their early promise.
On a side note: Three members of the USA 4X100-meter relay team at the 2002 IAAF World Junior Championships -- Lauryn Williams (lead-off), Shalonda Solomon (curve) and Marshavet Hooker (anchor) -- are still active today (although Lauryn seems to be approaching the end of her career).
Good to see you back,Historian.At least Facey and McLaughlin have not completely disappeared off the map and reaching the 200 final at the last W.C. was a major achievement.It goes to show though... more
Very interesting history. The statistic don't lie, 80% of athletic prodigies do not carry over their performance to the big league and the rest who do only last for a few seasons. People like Allyson ... more
We have seen what you of spoken of time after time. But of note though, is the fact these juniors at times sustain major injuries which can threatens the remainder of their careers even before they... more
Rson, Baddaz and Readerman , I appreciate the kind words ;). Rson , you always add a most welcome balance and objectivity to discussions on this forum. Always. For example, you are probably the only... more