Jamaicans chase Olympic history as athletics begins


August 12, 2016
Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer Sprinter Christania Williams getting ready for her big day.

The first pages of the newest chapter of Jamaica's Olympic track and field history will be turned inside the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro today.

Daina Levy will become the first Jamaican to compete in the hammer throw event, Fedrick Dacres has a good shot at getting a medal but must first navigate his way to the men's discus final; oh and there's the matter of the women's 100m, where history - chasing Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and perhaps her biggest threat - training partner Elaine Thompson, will stretch their legs and lay down the first markers in the women's 100m heat.

Things will kick up a gear with the opening day of competition with 11 Jamaicans scheduled to feature.

The greatest attention will no doubt be focused on the Fraser-Pryce, Thompson, Dafne Schippers showdown with all three expected to make light work of tonight's first round.

break out year

Fraser-Pryce is looking to become the first woman to win three individual Olympic gold medals in track and field but will be hard pressed by Thompson, who earlier this year matched her 10.70 national record with the late charging locomotive, Schippers also certain to push for the major medal. The other Jamaican in this event, Christania Williams, was expected to have a break out year with Thompson last season but was held back by injuries. She will definitely be relishing this opportunity.

Jamaicans have been making all sort of noise in the throwing events and Dacres - whose gold medal wins at the youth and junior levels were ground-breaking themselves, will take a swing at a Jamaican Olympic first, when he takes his 68.02m (the sixth best throw this year) into men's discus qualifying.

Only three men have thrown farther than Dacres this year and the 2015 World Championships finalist certainly didn't sound like he was lacking nay confidence when we caught up with him earlier this week.

"I'm ready, I feel very good, I'm happy with my season and I am looking forward to compete," Dacres said.

Danniel Thomas-Dodd will also be in action in the morning session with her women's shot put qualifiers set to get underway at 10:05am (8:05am Jamaica time). The final for the event is set for tonight at 10:00pm (8:00pm Jamaica time)

Levy, who qualified to the Games with the last throw of what was her last meet before the qualification deadline for the Olympics, is the first Jamaican in action in the evening session and will get her chance to make it count in Hammer Throw qualifying, which gets underway at 8:40pm (6:40pm).

Fitzroy Dunkley, Javon Francis and Rusheen McDonald will compete in the men's 400m heats, which start at 9:05pm (7:05pm)

Aubrey Smith is listed in qualification group 'A' in the men's long jump with the in-form Damar Forbes lining up in the next group.

Forbes finished second at his last jump at the London Anniversary Games and also won his previous two competitions - at the National Championships and the Monaco Diamond League.

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