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via Imago

via Imago

Hayward Field hosted the women’s 200-meter sprint final thriller with the reigning Olympic bronze medalist Gabrielle Thomas winning in 21.81 seconds. On the flip side, fan-favorite Sha’Carri Richardson who, despite a great Lane 6 start, had to settle for a fourth-place finish in 22.16 seconds. Although the dust had settled at the ‘running capitol of the world,’ a week on, it seems a new conversation has picked up steam, one involving the Texan native and Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson.

Richardson had one fighting chance when she almost made it to the front of the pack to ultimately fall short at the final stretch which disqualified her for a sprint double bid at Paris on Saturday. Meanwhile, the next day at the Kingston Stadium, the Jamaican National Championship saw 2012 Olympic 200m silver medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce opting out to give way to Shericka confidently doting the top time for the day.

Interestingly, the time difference between the American and her Jamaican opponent was quite staggering for proud fans of either side to present their rationale. After all, a 0.13 second… That’s all it took for a X blogger page Track Spice to drop a post with a bold disclaimer: “Team USA is the hardest team to make, no lie.

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Here’s the tweet; check it out.

Poll of the day

Who do you think is the better sprinter right now?

Shericka Jackson

Sha'Carri Richardson

Both are equally good

Neither impresses me

But Richardson or not, the women’s USA team’s 200-m victor and runners-up in Brittany Brown and McKenzie Long finally have the chance to redeem and bring back the Olympic gold medal home after a dry spell of 12 years, during which Elaine Thompson-Herah registered back-to-back gold wins in the event in 2016 and 2020. It can’t get any better for the trial qualifiers as the two-time defending gold medalist is out of contention for Paris.

As Gabby establishes herself as America’s favorite to win the 200m, for now, the internet debates the track trials in Jamaica and the US and the divide in Shericka Jackson and Sha’Carri Richardson’s competitiveness that got highlighted rather bluntly.

Rival fans are out to get each other, pendulums between speculating intent versus stats

A supporter observed the dimension of the trials in battle objectives, suggesting, “Jamaican trials are not as competitive, so you won’t get fast times. Smaller-scale trials, smaller competition.” But is it so? Stats aside, three-time Olympic gold medalist Shelly-Ann rekindled a memory from her Waterhouse resident days, a place where she spent a major part of her childhood learning to run first before anything else.  In Jamaica, it gets so competitive for young school-going students that being fast meant earning bragging rights for them, yes… But oh wait… even for parents!

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Nevertheless, another fan reacted by pointing out Shericka Jackson’s continual quality, no matter the competition level: “Shericka jogged, though.” A different user said, “Shericka is… 8 seconds away from beating the 200-meter world record. She consistently beats Sha’Carri in the 200. Context helps,” noting her potential and comparing her to Jackson. Who can forget the 200m outing in Budapest last year when Shericka blazed to win a well-deserved gold in just 21.41 seconds, becoming the fastest women alive? Sha’Carri was edged out by her, forcing her to take the 3rd spot, nearly 0.51 seconds behind. Are we to forget a similar fate registered in 2022 when she was just 0.11 seconds behind Flo-Jo’s 21.34 seconds all-time fastest record?

Before the Olympics, many conjectured about Jackson’s tactics and state of health. As one commenter put it, “I hope Shericka gets in shape by the Olympics, or did she purposely just do what was needed?” Shericka’s trial performance might have been more calculated than a reflection of her peak fitness. Shericka Jackson, meanwhile, headed to the track to qualify for her second event—the women’s 200-meter race—having already booked her spot in the 100-meter race.

In a chat after winning the bid for a sprint double at the Paris Olympics, Jackson talked about how becoming older affected her performance and training. “Maybe I run one or two races, but I don’t think I’ll be competing a lot, and I think it’s helping my body; I’m getting old,” Jackson said. But this commenter kept pressing on the polarising rivalry between both nations, “The reason why I get angry when people say American athletes are proud is because, do you know what it means to make their teams?”

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Furthermore, an additional supporter commonly added, comparing the hardships to a country’s success abroad: “I’d like to add that a big reason the USA is the hardest team to make is because it’s a melting pot of different people. In some events, maybe short hurdles, for example, US trials can act as a preview of the podium in international competitions.”

The competition between Richardson and Jackson gives the coming Olympics a fascinating new angle. Stay tuned!