THE FINAL DAY
Our day begins with a trip to the top of world-famous Blue Mountain. Five of us, Jim, Mike Byrnes, Joy Kamani, Mike Kennedy and Scott Davis. Davis basks in our effusive praise for his terrific announcing of the women’s Heptathlon. It is well deserved. His setting up of the final event, the 800m, is without parallel. His voice is calm, almost conversational. He sounds as if he’s talking with us on the bus rather than to a crowd of about 25,000. For example, “OK, here’s the situation.” He goes on to explain that should Carolina Kluft, the leader from Sweden, run 2:13. 99 she’ll tie the WJR. BUT, should she run 2:13.88 the record will be hers. As you know, she runs slightly faster than required and gets the mark. Perhaps my colleague didn’t mention it but about 6m from the finish she’s almost staggering. Her prior best is a mere 2:17 or so. She sees the finish line clock and somewhere, deep down inside the heart of a champion, she finds the strength to take two quick strides and lunges across, the record is hers!
Back to our trip. The road is extremely windy, very bumpy and very steep. I’m often looking down at…nothing. And the drop is a long way. Spier has a propensity for getting sick but looks OK. About halfway up, he ups, out the window. That’s why I’m writing these reports rather than he.
When we arrive at the stadium we are faced with a huge traffic jam and thousands of people lining up to get inside the beautifully refurbished National Stadium. Once we get in we are crushed to learn two of our best, Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards will not compete due to injuries. They join Texan Jeremy Wariner on the sidelines. Richards’s injury is maddening. At the close of her leg in the 4x400 semis, she looked back to be sure she wouldn’t impede an incoming runner and stepped into a hole. As she stumbled her other leg came down upon the curb, twisted violently and badly strained the ligaments in her leg. What had looked to be a real challenge to the WJR 4x400mR is over. The big question, can we win the two relays at all?
Anay Tejada, the World Junior Leader, got a terrible start almost
being left in the
MEN’S 110H FINAL
The trend of Kenyan victories continues as Viola Kibiwot comes
on strongly to take
Men’s 1500m FINAL
The gun sounds and, as usual in this race, the early pace is fairly
Once again the battle is joined between the Kenyans, Vivian Cheruiyot
WOMEN’S 4x100 FINAL
Ashlee Williams is called upon to replace Felix. The intention to replace Solomon with Richards is shelved. The team that takes the track is drastically different than the one the coaching staff had envisioned. They will face a very strong Jamaican team further emboldened by the news of our troubles.
The crowd is in frenzy! It’s impossible to imagine an American
crowd that could get so
FALSE START on the Jamaicans. Edge, USA. Then the gun, a clean
start. US leads off
The US team ran well, 43.66 but had no one to match McLaughlin.
Her third leg
MEN’S 4x100 FINAL
L3, Jamaica (Winston Hutton, Orion Nicely, Yhann Plummer, Usain
Bolt); L4, US
Collins out about as well as can be expected but trailing. Felix
holds his own and
WOMEN’S 4x400 FINAL
L3, USA (Christine Hardeman, Monique Henderson, Tiffany Ross,
MEN’S 4x400 FINAL
L3, USA (Kenneth Ferguson, Darold Williamson, Ashton Collins, Jonathan
by Mike Byrnes
The kids surge onto the field. It’s supposed to be an orderly thing but this is the JUNIORS and they’re having fun. Nationalism is rampant as flags, facial tattoos (don’t worry Mom, they wash off in about a week) signs, hats, etc are proudly displayed. All is chaos and I love it. No well-organized, strictly enforced rules here. This is Jamaica, this is where the hometown cheers for their kids regardless of where they finish. (As I write this the US team is awarded their gold medals and the Jamaican crowd cheers loudly. Not as loudly as they do for their team but a good solid show of respect for a great opponent.)
But the kids are courteous and cooperative, unlike several earlier championships, and leave the field so the festivities can begin.
THANK GOD THIS ISN’T THE OLYMPICS!
The festivities are a celebration of Caribbean cultures. It begins with Brazilian dancing. The kids are beautifully dressed and perfectly synchronized, well almost. The music quickens and the kids spin, twirl and move. The crowd cheers, it’s great. Then come the Jamaicans.
ROAR!! The kids look like elves. The costumes are colorful although two kids forgot their tights and cavort in black jeans. Like I said, this ain’t the Olympics. This is true hometown pride on display. Right now there are, perhaps, 200 kids on the field. They’ve become a bit scattered but who cares?
Now come the speeches and they aren’t bad. I’m far too busy writing to listen closely but what I hear I like. Nicely done.
Now the final moments. The flag of the IAAF is marched smartly to the middle of the infield and properly folded by the red-clad soldiers. Without making fun, the ceremony looks like something you’d see in a film about the British army. Arms swinging strongly, heads snapping around, knees raised and slammed down.
The flag is presented to IAAF President Liame Diack.
The ceremonies end. Out rush the kids quickly joined by the coaches
and even some of the parents. It is a joyous time. The athletes
dance, exchange gifts, swap shirts, hug, kiss, make sure they’ve
gotten e-mail addresses. The relief is palpable. It’s over.
No more pressure. Some go home bitterly disappointed; others have
cried tears of joy. None will ever be the same. They have joined
an Elite group. They’ve competed in the World Championships.
They can count themselves among the best athletes of their age in
the world. All didn’t turn in their best efforts but all can
be proud. It was an honor to be here, an honor to cheer for our
kids but equally an honor to applaud the efforts of others. It’s
over. Tomorrow we go home.
Sunday, July 21, 2002
KINGSTON – The final night of the IAAF World Junior Championships
By the end of the evening, the team added another World Junior
Antwon Hicks (Mississippi) started off the excitement for Team
USA, with a
Up next on the track, with over 34,000 Jamaicans cheering, was
the women and
The men’s 4x100m relay had different ideas when they took
the track next.
“The crowd was great and they were cheering their team on,”
said Wes Felix,
Team USA continued its relay dominance in the 4x400m relays, winning
“I got boxed in a little and I’m not used to running
from the back,” said
The men stepped onto the track next with a team of World Junior
“He (Jermaine Gonzales JAM) was gaining, but I knew I was
In other finals on Sunday, Ashlee Williams just missed the medal
Team USA won the overall competition with 21 medals, including
IAAF release by David Martin (PA)
21 July 2002 – Kingston - Rarely has any major athletics championships produced the incredible scenes witnessed tonight in Jamaica's National Stadium in Kingston when the host nation won the IAAF World Junior women's 4x100 metres gold medal.
Already a 36,000 sell-out - just before the race started, spectators were trying to climb over the walls to watch - a thrilling contest lived up to its billing as the Jamaican's beat off a very strong challenge from the United States, with third placed Great Britain out of contention.
The winning quartet of Sherone Simpson, Kerron Stewart, Anneisha Mclaughlin and Simone Facey, were under immense pressure throughout from the Americans, but on each leg there were blistering displays, capped by a superb anchor leg from Simone Facey.
The 100m silver medallist produced a magical dash up the home straight, fetching the host nation across the line in a championship record - and second fastest ever - time of 43.40.
The United States team whose predecessors set the previous world junior record of 43.38 in 1999, finished in 43.66 with the Britons running 44.22s their quickest of the year.
When Facey crossed the line, the crowd already screaming at fever pitch erupted to a new ear splitting, decibel level. The victory also prompted an overwhelmed Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson to celebrate with a congratulatory kiss on the cheek of the country's first lady.
Hardly had the crescendo of sound died, than the joyous spectators, revelling and sharing their side's joy, brought it back to its previous level when the men's 4x100m relay got underway. The sense of anticipation of a further gold medal caused another cacophonic eruption to every ones' ears.
However on this occasion the Jamaican's met their match - although it took a world junior record from the United States who with slick baton changing, stormed to victory in 38.92.
It was the first time 39 seconds had ever been bettered at junior level, a testament of the skill of the American selection of Ashton Collins, Wes Felix, Ivory Williams and Willie Hordge. Both runners-up Jamaica and bronze medallists Trinidad and Tobago posted new national records of 39.15 and 39.17.
The relay action continued at a momentous level. The women's 4x400m saw the first three teams to finish set new national records. Lashinda Demus clinched victory for the United States.
The winner of the 400m hurdles in a world record time, passed Lisa Miller 30 metres from the line, denying Great Britain defending their title. The US ran 3:29.95 the third fastest ever achieved, the runners-up 3:30.46 and Russia 3:30.72.
The US also won the men's race clocking 3:03.71 to hold off the challenge of Jamaica who set a national record of 3:04.06. Japan were a surprise third in 3:05.80.
Having already won the 3000m final on Tuesday's opening day, Meseret Defar achieved a marvelous double when also improving on the 5000m silver medal she won two years ago in Santiago de Chile. With seven rivals together at the bell, a last lap burn-up - and a terrific kick from 150m - saw Defar after making her break untouchable, as she won in 15:54.94. Runner-up was her Ethiopian team mate Tirunesh Dibabar who clocked 15:55.99 with Kenya's Vivian Cheruiyot third in 15:56.04.
Caribbean champion Anay Tejeda opened the last day's action in fabulous style. But for a following wind of 3.4 metres-per-second, she would have smashed the long standing world and championship records of 12.84 and 12.96s Aliuska Lopez set in Cuban colours in 1987 and 1988. But it was still a mighty impressive win by Tejeda in 12.81. Behind the Cuban gold medallist, Poland's Agnieszka Frankowska was a distant runner-up in 13.16. There was also plenty of space between her and bronze medallist Tina Klein of Germany who ran 13.23.
With the wind again over-the-limit (+2.6m/s), Antwon Hicks added to the US domination of the championships, winning the 110m hurdles and his country's sixth gold medal in 13.42. China's Asian champion Shi Dongpeng finished second in 13.58 ahead of Caribbean silver medallist Shamar Sands of the Bahamas who clocked 13.67.
Surprisingly, given its middle distance heritage, a Kenyan had never won the women's 1500m medal. Viola Kibiowot winning in 4:12.57 rectified the default. The tiny Kenyan producing her fastest ever metric mile, easily held of Ethiopia's Berhane Herpassa (4:13.59). A personal best of 4:14.32 won the bronze medal for Russia's Olesya Syreva.
A dominating sprint from Yassine Bensghir to the finishing line with half-a-lap remaining gained a second 1500m gold medal for Morocco at the distance, in the last three championships. Clocking a personal best 3:40.72 Bensghir destroyed the challenges aimed in his direction with a second kick in the final 100 metres from Qatar's Abdulrahman Suleiman silver medallist in 3:41.72, with Tanzania's Samuel Newera only 0.03sec in arrears.
This year's leading performer Igor Janik took the javelin gold medal. The Pole threw 74.16m in the opening round. Runner-up Valdislav Shkurlatov of Russia clinched the silver medal with a last round effort of 74.09m. Third was Korea's Sang-Jin Jung who couldn't improve on his opening throw of 73.99m.
The pole vault saw a world leading performance of 5.55m as Maksym
Mazuryk defeated fellow Ukrainian Vladyslav Revenko on countback.
Third was Vincent Favretto who clinched bronze with a 5.40m. The
Frenchman's better sequence gained him the medal from Stavrous Kouroupakis
of Greece, Artem Kuptsov from Russia and his team mate Jerome Clavier
who all cleared the same height.
21 July 2002 - The tradition wants that the four relays be run on the final day of the competition.
It was the men’s 4x100m who offered the best technical results with the American team of Ashton Collins, Wes Felix, Ivory Williams and Willie Hordge establishing a new world junior record of 38.92. The four teenagers became the first ever to dip under the 39-second barrier as the former world best was 39.00 held by another US team of Neal Jessie, Allen Franklin, Stanley Blalock and Dennis Mitchell since 1983.
The extraordinary performance was the result of the pure talent of the four athletes, the crowd’s massive support and the presence of what the world has best to offer in terms of junior sprinters. Indeed, the USA had to fight hard to hold off brilliant teams from Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.
“We were very confident,” revealed Wes Felix who ran the second leg. “We were all aiming for gold because we know we have talent.” Felix who was also a bronze medallist in the individual 200m turns 19 today and certainly couldn’t have hoped for a better present. “These championships have been fantastic for me, two medals and a world record this is my best ever birthday.”
The US quartet admitted they had troubles with their first and second exchanges but were proud of their last exchange which set 100m bronze medallist Hordge on track for gold.
“The only thing that was in my head when I had that relay baton was ‘stop the clock” were Hordge’s simple words.
The tactic was simple and clear as Williams explained: “my job was to hand the relay baton in first position to Willie. I knew that if I did, we would get gold.”
The American sprinters may not have noticed that around them both Trinidad and Jamaica were having great trouble with their exchanges but they certainly couldn’t help hearing the crowd.
“They have been great all week long but tonight was special,” commented Felix. “Jamaica is great”
From the stand former world record holder Leroy Burrell was a happy
man. “I am proud of these boys. What they have accomplished
is unbelievable. They competed against the best athletes in the
world and obtained excellent results. They have just ensured that
US sprinting carries on for years to come. They are the future of
the sport in our country.”
21 July 2002 – The curtain was drawn on the IAAF/Coca Cola World Junior Championships in Kingston today and for its first ever World Athletic Series held in Jamaica, the IAAF could not be more than happy with the results and technical level of the competition.
With a total of three World Junior records – and two more to be ratified by 31 December 2002 –Kingston 2002 has been the best Championships of the past decade. Only Sudbury 1988 can claim a better record with four World junior marks established during that edition of the Championships.
In the opening edition of the World Junior Championships in Athens 1986, two world records were set as one per edition were established in Plovdid 1990, Seoul 1992 and Sydney 1996. No world records were registered in Lisbon 1994, Annecy 1998 and Santiago de Chile two years ago.
In addition to Lashinda Demus’s 54.70 in the 400m hurdles, Carolina Kluft’s extraordinary tally of 6470 points in the heptathlon and the US 4x100m quartet timed in 38.92, the 2002 edition will eventually be credited of the best junior marks for the men’s shot put and discus throw. The implement being lighter in both disciplines since 1 January 2002 following a decision of the IAAF Council, their marks will be officially considered as world records on 31 December 2002 should they remain the best in the world by a junior this year.
A total of 9 Championships records were also bettered in Kingston. Four by the men and five by the women. The men were Darrel Brown of Trinidad in the 100m, Hillary Chenonge of Kenya in the 5000m, Louis van Zyl of South Africa in the 400m hurdles and USA in the 4x100m relay. The women were Lashinda Demus, Carolina Kluft, Floé Kühnert in the pole vault, Ivana Brkljacic in the hammer throw and Jamaica in the 4x100m relay.
Eight Continental records were also registered in Kingston and most impressively 73 national records.
37 Member Federations were listed on the medal Table with USA topping the standings (20 medals – 8 gold, 5 silver, 7 bronze) ahead of Kenya (5 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze) and Ethiopia (3 gold, 4 silver, 1 bronze). For the first time in the history of the championships, Antigua (1 silver), Kazakhstan (1 silver), India (1 bronze) and Luxembourg (1 bronze) were listed in the medal table.
No fewer than 83 countries had athletes competing in the finals.
The number of countries taking part in the championships was officially 159 and the athletes competing 1040 – 619 men and 421 women. Kingston 2002 is second only to Annecy 1998 in the list of editions with the highest number of countries participating. It tops the standings of participation nations in a World Junior Championship held outside Europe.
With a capacity crowd of 30,000 on the last day of competition, the Championships ended in tremendous celebration of athletics and international understanding.
Thank you Kingston - Thank you Jamaica!