MIRAMAR, Florida — Jamaica’s discus thrower Travis Smike in action at the Pan-American Junior Track and Field Championships at the Ansin Sports Complex here, yesterday.
MIRAMAR, Florida — A Pan-American Junior Championships record in his final event as a junior for Travis Smikle, and a redemption gold medal for Chris-Ann Gordon highlighted a good opening day for Jamaica at the Pan-American Junior Track and Field Championships at the Ansin Sports Complex here, yesterday.
The athletes battled their opponents as well as wildly fluctuating weather conditions that swung from one end of the scale to the other in a short period of time.
The start of the day's proceedings was delayed for two hours by persistent rain and lightning which then made way for the scorching heat and humidity that have gripped a large part of the United States for the past few weeks.
The start of the evening session was also pushed back an hour, due to an acident that backed up traffic on the freeway, delaying the arrival of some teams.
Jamaica finished the day with five medals, two gold, two silver and a bronze in what head coach Michael Carr described as "very good considering most of our top juniors would be competing for about seven months now".
Discus thrower Smikle and Gordon were the winners, while sprint hurdler Daniel Williams and hammer thrower Daina Levy took silvers, while Fedric Dacres won bronze.
Carr said: "I am quite happy with what we have done so far and a number of the athletes are still running their personal bests and so we can't ask for anything more."
He singled out Gordon for her win in the 400m saying they had worked hard with her with "lots of motivation".
Gordon was not originally entered in the race and was only supposed to compete in the relays, but was a last minute replacement, and despite being drawn in lane eight, produced her best race since Girls' Champs last March.
After disappointments at the Carifta Games and World Youth Championships, the 16-year-old Gordon produced a 52.62 seconds timing, running blind as she could not see those behind her, to hold off the American pair of Dimond Dixon (53.10 seconds) and Phyliss Francis (53.81 seconds), both 19 years old.
Nicolate Martin was seventh in 58.62 seconds as Javere Bell was also seventh in the men's race in
Smikle, the World Junior leader at 66.88m, ended his junior career on a high with a big performance, ending with 66.58m with all but one throw over 61.75m with World Youth Championships winner Fedric Dacres taking third with 57.24m as the USA's Gabriel Hull was second with 57.78m, achieved on his final attempt to pass Dacres.
Smikle, the National Senior champion, said being left off the team to the CAC Championships last week did not bother him as he knows he has time for the senior meets, but said the last three weeks were dedicated to getting back his technique which he said was on and off since the end of April.
Smikle ended the season undefeated as a junior winning at Boys' Champs, Carifta Games, Penn Relays and Pan-Am Juniors, setting records at every stop.
Earlier in the day in the morning session, Levy who was representing Jamaica for the first time after competing for Canada where she was born, at the IAAF World Youths Championships in Italy in 2009, copped the silver medal in the hammer, a first for Jamaica at the junior level.
Levy, who resides in Kennesaw, Georgia, had a best throw of 55.79m as her high school teammate Shelby Ashe, who represented the USA won with 59.25m set on her final attempt, but her previous best of 57.86m would still have given her the gold, while another American Karen Henning was third with 54.18m.
Williams, who just missed a bronze medal at the World Junior Championships in Canada last year, took second in the 100m hurdles in 13.32 seconds, sandwiched by two Americans -- winner Trinity Wilson (13.17 seconds) and Bridgette Owens (13.34 seconds), running out of lane one.
World Youth Championships gold medallist Odail Todd was fourth in the 100m final in a wind aided 10.41 seconds (2.4 m/s), while Natasha Morrison was fifth in the female in 11.59 seconds and Celia Walters was eighth in 11.93 seconds.
In the semi-finals, Todd looked easy finishing second in a personal best 10.46 seconds to American Kennan Brock (10.17).
National Junior Trials winner Everton Clarke also had a personal best 10.51 seconds tied for third in his semi-final heat with the Bahamas' Trevorvano Mackey, but failed to advance.
Morrison was third in her semi-final heat in 11.59 seconds, while Walters was fourth in the previous heat in 11.6 seconds and advanced as one of the fastest losers.
Today's second day of the championships will be a busy one for the Jamaicans with competition continuing in the women's heptathlon, men's 110m hurdles, men and women's high jump, men's shot put; women's long jump, men's 800m, women discus, men and women's 200m prelims, men's 400m hurdles prelims, men's 1500m prelims, women's 800m, men's triple jump and women's high jump.