Sunday, 09 August 2009

Women's 100m - PREVIEW

Kerron Stewart defeats Shelly-Ann Fraser in the 100m to clock 10.75, the fastest time in the world in 10 years  (Getty Images)

Kerron Stewart defeats Shelly-Ann Fraser in the 100m to clock 10.75, the fastest time in the world in 10 years (Getty Images)

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    • Carmelita Jeter (r) and Muna Lee (l) finish 1-2 in the 100m at the US championships
    • A close finish in the women's 100m final where Veronica Campbell takes gold ahead of Lauryn Williams
    With seven women under 11 seconds this year the race to be the world’s fastest woman promises to be one of the most absorbing events of the championships.

    The Olympic 100m silver medallist Kerron Stewart appears to be the athlete with the stand out credentials having enjoyed an imperious year. The Jamaican has been defeated just twice over 100m this season and is on course to land a share of the $1m ÅF Golden League Jackpot with four wins out of four thus far in the series. Stewart’s most impressive triumph came in Rome when she blitzed to victory in a stunning 10.75 – the fastest time in the event for nine years and a mark which elevated her to fifth on the all-time lists.

    Stewart, however, has yet to land a senior global title and she will face the sternest of opposition. One of her two defeats this year came at the hands of her countrywoman Shelly-Ann Fraser and few would discount the diminutive Olympic champion. Fraser clocked an impressive season’s best time of 10.88 to beat Stewart at the Jamaican championships and the 22-year-old was an impressive winner in Monaco - her last pre-Berlin outing – stopping the clock in 10.91.

    A third Jamaican with legitimate claims on landing the 2009 World crown is defending champion Veronica Campbell-Brown, who has a season’s best of 10.96.

    She boasts a formidable championship pedigree and although an untimely injury in the spring has restricted her competitive programme this summer she always remains a genuine gold medal threat.

    The main danger to the Jamaicans comes from US champion Carmelita Jeter, who is enjoying the best season of her life at the age of 29. The 2007 World championship 100m bronze medallist has dipped below 11 seconds no less than eight times this season (if we include wind-aided times) and an impressive victory in a personal best of 10.92 in her last outing in London suggests she is a genuine challenger.

    Lauryn Williams, the 2007 World championship silver medallist, has looked a little short of her very best this summer. Her legal season’s best of 11.11 would suggest she is some way short of the quickest woman in the world but she is another athlete with an enviable championship record having struck gold at the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki.

    The US assault is completed by Muna Lee who recorded a wind-aided 10.78 at the US Championships and lost out to Jeter by just one-hundredth of a second. However, since then she has only one very modest 100m outing on the European circuit and question marks remain about her current form.

    The veteran Bahamian sprint duo of Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie and Chandra Sturrup have also rolled back the years to rediscover some outstanding form this year. Ferguson-McKenzie, 33, blitzed to her quickest time for six years - an impressive 10.97 posting in Monaco. Sturrup, 37, the two-time World championship 100m bronze medallist, recorded 10.99 in Rome for third, her fastest time for four years to suggest the pair represent the chief threat to the US-Jamaican duopoly.

    Kelly Ann-Baptiste ran 10.94 to set a national record for Trinidad and Tobago in June and she should also be watched. Laverne Jones-Ferrette (11.13) of the American Virgin Islands will also have aspirations to reach the final after enjoying a consistent season.

    Steve Landells for the IAAF