Fri | Mar 22, 2019

Ja, USA in big 400m clash at JII

Published:Friday | May 19, 2017 | 12:00 AMRaymond Graham
Natasha Hastings
Novlene Williams-Mills
Stephenie McPherson

The Jamaica versus United States rivalry on the track will continue tomorrow in the women's 400 metres at the Jamaica International Invitational (JII) meet.

Both countries will parade four athletes each for the event. Six of these athletes competed at some stage in the Rio Olympic Games 4x400m .

Those down to compete for Jamaica are Novlene Williams Mills, Stephenie Ann McPherson, Christine Day and Anneisha McLaughlin Whilby.

The United States team will be led by Natasha Hastings and include Courtney Okolo, Phyllis Francis and Ashley Spencer.

This race is expected to be one of the most competitive events on tomorrow's programme as there is no clear favourite. Three of the American athletes in the line up went under 50 seconds last year. Okolo did 49.71, Hastings 49.90 and Francis 49.94.


New year


However, this is a new year and this will count for nothing as with the season so early no one has dominated the event so far and Hastings with a season's best of 50.74 at the Shanghai Diamond League a week ago, when finishing second is the top ranked athlete going into the race. No other athlete has gone under 51 this year.

The Jamaican to watch is Williams Mills. She has a season's best of 51.45 when finishing fourth in Shanghai and normally runs her best races on local soil and a good performance is expected once again from her.

McPherson, the 2016 Diamond League winner, was off to a slow start in Shanghai where she finished seventh and will want to make up for that performance while both McLaughlin Whilby and Day will be hoping also for big improvements on their season openers.While the front running American Hastings could go all the way her teammates Okolo, Francis and Spencer who finished third in the women's 400m hurdles in Rio last year will be hoping to crash the Jamaican party. Okolo could make a big mark here.

This is her first individual 400m of the season but she looked the best of the Americans when they won the 4x400m event several weeks ago at the IAAF World Relays in the Bahamas.