Williams, Janeek Brown, Megan Tapper, who placed 3-7-dnf at last year's Worlds and semi-finalist Yanique Thompson lead the current crop but they may soon have company from a younger brigade. The new group is led by 2019 World Under 18 champion Brittany Anderson who announced her presence by slicing the World Under 20 record down to 12.71 seconds last year on July 24.
It was a case of mission accomplished. Speaking last year while she was at Camperdown High, Anderson targeted the record. “I’m not running for a Champs record, I’m running for a World Junior Record", she charged with a determined tone overtaking her quiet voice.
The old mark was 12.84 seconds.
Her first inspiration was Vere Technical star Shericka Jackson who later won Olympic and World bronze medals in the 400 metres. “I saw Shericka Jackson on my TV and I decided that I want to go to Vere”, Anderson recounted, “and there it started.”
Though she is a fine sprinter and jumper, her focus on the 100 metre hurdles produced a personal best of 13.01 seconds at the 2018 World Under 20 Championships but lost the gold medal on a photo finish to American Tia Jones who was awarded the very same time.
“That’s just a big step back although I had that in my hands”, she said evenly.
She had her eye on an individual spot on Jamaica’s 100 metre hurdles team to the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar this September but had to make do with the record and it’s little wonder she admires Williams. “I always watch Danielle, knowing that I’m thinking of competing with her this year”, she said with a shy laugh.
Since the middle of the 2019 season, Anderson has been a member of the same US based training camp as Olympic champion Omar McLeod and 2019 World 100 metre hurdles winner Nia Ali of the United States. Rubbing shoulders with such greats may help.
The 19 year-old Anderson will not be the only one trying to extend the Jamaican tradition in the event. Rushell Burton, who was second in the 2016 World Under 20 Championship, trains with world record holder Kendra Harrison every day in Texas. World Youth record holder Ackera Nugent will soon be on her way from Excelsior High School to Baylor University in the Lone Star State.
Brown, the 2019 NCAA champion, has become a professional and has 2017 World Under 18 bronze medallist Dazsay Freeman for company at her University of Arkansas base. 2017 and 2018 Carifta champion Amoi Brown could also be in the reckoning when the 2021 Olympic Trials roll around.
Only three Jamaicans can advance from the Trials to Tokyo for the Olympics and the resulting battle will be worth watching. One thing is certain; the Jamaican 100 metre hurdles tradition started by Freeman, the 1997 World bronze medallist, will definitely be upheld.