Rio de Janeiro Olympians Sashalee Forbes, Anniesha McLaughlin-Whilby, and Ristananna Tracey have all made good starts to training for the 2017 season. That’s the assessment of their coach, Maurice Wilson, who says if all goes well, next season could be exciting.
Wilson, who coaches the trio of first-time Olympians at the G.C. Foster College for Physical Education, made the observation at the launch this week of an upcoming road race being organised by the institution.
“So far, I think we have started well,” he said. “I think they have superseded all marks from last season, this time, already,” he tabled, “so it seems to me that once they stay injury free, we’re going to have a very exciting season.”
He had high praise for Forbes and McLaughlin-Whilby, who won Olympic silver medals for their contribution in the 4x100m and 4x400m relays, and for Tracey, who set a lifetime best of 54.15 seconds in the final of the 400 metres hurdles.
Speaking of Forbes, he enumerated, “If you were to check the records, I think only Sherone Simpson, who has made that huge transition, moving from 11.3 to 11.1 under Stephen Francis coming out of high school.”
In her first season out of Manchester High School, Simpson improved her 100m personal best 11.37 seconds to 11.01 and reached the 2004 Olympic final in her first year with UTech/MVP coach Francis directing her workouts. Holmwood Technical High graduate Forbes moved her best from 11.55 to 11.17 in 2016.
Wilson, who was Jamaica’s technical leader at the 2016 Olympics, was nevertheless cautious. “Last year,” he recalled, we felt that Rasheed Dwyer would run 19.7.”
Dwyer and Anatascia Leroy, teammates in Wilson’s SprinTec Track Club, and Demish Gaye, a G.C. Foster College student-athlete, all looked promising early in the Olympic season. A lifetime best of 10.10 seconds for 100m on April 16 indicated progress for Dwyer in the 200m, where he was Commonwealth champion in 2014. Hit by Zika, Dwyer never approached his 200m best of 19.80 and wasn’t even able to run the final at the National Senior Championships.
In similar fashion, the virus erased fine early form shown by Leroy, who has won World Championships and Commonwealth gold medals as part of Jamaica’s 4×400 metre squads. She had lowered her 200m personal to 22.85 on April 16.
Gaye was enjoying a breakthrough season in the 400 metres and had wins at the Gibson-McCook Relays and the Inter-Collegiate Championships for G.C. Foster.
Wilson also gave an update on these three athletes. “Dwyer seems to be in excellent shape, also Demish,” he reported. “There’s a little bit of a challenge with Ana (Leroy), but I’ve taken it on myself to make sure as one of my longest-serving athletes that I do everything in my power,” he pledged, “to get her back to the highest level.