This is Deji Ogeyingbo’s feature on Shericka Jackson, who is looking to win the 100 meters and 200 meters, plus run on the 4x100m relay!
Shericka Jackson: The late bloomer seeking double sprint glory in Budapest
August 2, 2021—The women’s 200m heats got underway inside the national stadium in Japan. Shericka Jackson was ranked inside the top 5 and was a shoo-in to get a medal for Jamaica in the event. Until the unthinkable happened. She misjudged her run and placed 4th in her heat despite being the favorite to make it past that stage. It eventually ended her hopes of getting a second individual medal at the Tokyo Olympics after she snagged Bronze in the 100m a few days before.
It felt strange at that time as there wasn’t any ominous sign that a world-class athlete could make such a mistake at such an elite level. Perhaps, the only other explanation was that she was running the 200m at a major championship for the first time in her career, having been predominantly a quarter-miler for the large part of her sprinting sojourn.
A year later, Jackson made amends for such disappointment as she sped to an astonishing 21.45s to win her first individual world title in the 200m. The Jamaican has since become a dominant force in the event and has been tipped to take a bite at the world record of 21.34, set by Florence Griffith-Joyner.
Perhaps more important for Jackson is how she will navigate the grueling schedule of running three rounds in the 100m, 200m, and potentially the final of the women’s 4x100m for Jamaica. These are seven to eight days of competing with little or no time to recharge her batteries. But as an experienced quarter-miler, Jackson should most likely be up to the task. The real question, though, is if she can get past varying degrees of opponents in both events as they look to knock her off her perch.
Typically, the Jamaican isn’t seen as the front runner in the women’s 100m, and that’s despite her holding the world lead with 10.65s. Granted, she doesn’t get the allure that comes with multiple world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and multiple Olympic Champions Elaine Thompson-Herah. She has another opportunity in Budapest to tilt hat fan-support towards herself with a win.
Fraser-Pryce, the defending world champion, has been struggling with injuries for a large part of the season and only came back last month with two races over the 100m, clocking 10.82s and 10.83s, respectively. Her experience is one that can’t be thrown out of the window, and having not faced Jackson at the Jamaican Nationals (she has as bye as the defending champion), Fraser-Pryce will pose a serious threat to her countrywoman’s charge to win double gold in Budapest.
Two of Jackson’s major Budapest title contenders will come in the mold of Marie Josee Ta Lou and Sha’Carri Richardson. Despite holding the world lead, these two have beaten her in two races each over the course of the season. And with athletics mainly a sport that is inundated with numbers, in its raw form, it’s still a competitive sport about who gets to the line first.
The mitigating factor for Jackson is that her major rivals will more or less take in the 200m and 4x100m relay. Jackson’s training regimen, meticulously crafted by her coaching team, focuses on building her anaerobic and aerobic capacities, ensuring she is a force to be reckoned with in the race’s final stretch. It is perhaps the reason why she has had an almost flawless season in the 200m, winning all her final races.
There is the threat of US Gabby Thomas, who currently holds the world lead with 21.60s. The American has lost her last three races to Jackson, and having failed to qualify for the world championships on home soil last year, she will be looking to make amends with a commanding performance at the world championships. Thomas won’t be a pushover.
Only Fraser-Pryce has the enviable record of being the only woman to win a sprint double at the world championships when she did the 100m/200m double at the 2013 world championships in Moscow. Her journey to the brink of the sprint double has been peppered with moments of introspection and growth, solidifying her resolve to seize the opportunity that lies ahead.
Can Jackson become the second woman to secure the coveted sprint double? The answer, it seems, lies in her unwavering commitment and her remarkable track record in 2023. Her recent results, including her stellar 100m and 200m performances, position her as a frontrunner for glory on the grand stage. As they say, time reveals.