Jackson runs world lead in the women’s 400m, Garcia breaks the 35km world record in Slovakia as Richardson set to match up with Fraser-Pryce in Botswana.
The outdoor season is just getting into gear one, and athletes are still gauging themselves in low-key meets. At the Velocity fest in Jamaica, World 200m Champion Shericka Jackson stormed to a world leader in the 400m while racewalking double champion Kimberly Garcia continues to lay acclaim to the gong of being the best racewalker of our generation after she took down yet another record. Elsewhere, the Botswana Grand Prix in April became much more interesting as US star Sha’Carri Richardson announced her intention to join it.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Sha’Carri Richardson lock horns in Gaborone
Very rarely do you see top athletes grace the FNB Botswana Grand Prix, but after multiple 100m world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce announced her participation at this year’s edition in April, it ushered in a glut of many other superstars who indicated their interest in racing in Sub-Sahara Africa for the first time.
But amongst the lots, the name that picked interest amongst athletics faithful is US sprint star Sha’Carri Richardson. Just last weekend, the American, the seventh fastest athlete of all time, announced she will be racing for the first time this year in Gaborone.
Considering the magnitude of accolades Fraser-Pryce has accumulated in her career, you wouldn’t exactly put them as rivals. The talents of both sprinters clearly are there to see, with Richardson not being able to fully maximize her since turning professional. It’s been one issue or the other, and this race offers her an opportunity to start this year on a clean slate.
Surprisingly, their head-to-head in the 100m has the tie evenly split at three all, with Fraser-Pryce winning their last three meetings. What should we expect from the “Mummy Rocket” at her season opener? Last year, she stormed to a breathtaking 10.67s when she opened her season at the Kip Keino Classic in Nairobi. Can we see something similar?
Less we forget, she’s not getting younger, and if it’s the Richardson we saw dominate the NCAA and came up with some breathtaking performances in 2021, we might just be in for a spectacle in the hot and dry capital of Botswana.
Shericka Jackson is cooking up something big this year
If 2021 was the year Shericka Jackson made know of her intention to compete in the shorter sprint and 2022 uplifted her into the conversation as the favorite in the 100m/200m- especially with her win at the world championships in the half-lap event, then 2023, should be the year she is expected to cement her status as one of the best sprinters of our time.
And what better way to start her outdoor season than when we saw her saunter to a 50.92s opener in the 400m at the Velocity fest in Jamaica this weekend? It was her fastest time over the distance since 2019. To be fair to her, she has rarely raced the event since then as she focused her attention on the shorter sprint.
There is a very slim chance Jackson will race the event going into the season as she’s already gaining huge stride in the 200m, having come close to breaking Florence Griffith-Joyner’s record of 21.34, coming short by 0.09s. Over in the 100m, she was able to steal a match on her Jamaican rivals, Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson-Herah, at their National Championships, but she narrowly came unstuck at the world championships in Oregon.
Jackson might have reached her peak a bit late, but she’s showing the younger athletes that it’s never too late to reinvent oneself. Maybe this is the year she finally completes the double. Time will tell.
Kimberly Garcia is in a world of her own
There is dominance, and there is utter dominance. The latter is better suited to Kimberly Garcia, the Peruvian who always finds a way to reach new heights in race walking. It was against this backdrop she broke the 35km race walk world record with 2:37:44 at the Dudinska 50, the first World Athletics Race Walking Tour Gold meeting of the year.
WORLD RECORD ALERT ❗️
Kimberly Garcia 🇵🇪 breaks the 35km race walk world record with 2:37:44 at the Dudinska 50 #RaceWalkingTour Gold
— World Athletics (@WorldAthletics) March 25, 2023
Although Garcia clipped just two seconds away from the record, the Inca nation-born athlete felt she could do more. It came off the backdrop of her scintillating performance last summer, where she won Peru’s first-ever medal at the world championships.
The road has been long, arduous, and full of sacrifice for Garcia, but it has also served as fuel to push her beyond her boundaries. Perhaps, her biggest breakthrough so far came when she linked up with Ecuadorian Andres Chocho, who would make the key difference in her career.
Since then, Garcia has won the 20 and 35-km race walks at the world championships. Budapest offers her to continue dominating the events, and Saturday’s record in the 35km is just another indication that the stars are aligning.
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