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Akela Jones is a world champion


Sherrylyn A. Toppin

Akela Jones is a world champion

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AKELA JONES MADE ANOTHER historic step in a much-storied athletics career, when she won the women’s long jump at the IAAF World Junior Championships last night in Eugene, Oregon.
Jones not only became the island’s first ever female world champion, she also won Barbados’ first World Juniors medal with a leap of 6.34 metres in the long jump on her second attempt, battling a stiff 2.7 metres per second head wind. Her first mark of 6.32m in a headwind of 1.6m/s, was also good enough for gold.
No real emotion showed on Jones’ face after she cleared the pit on the final attempt. She already knew she had won when Norway’s Nadia Akpana Assa did not surpass her mark in that round, but ran to the sidelines where she received a hug and congratulations from coach Raymond Rudder.
Akpana Assa, who was wearing a long strip of medical tape on the right leg, was a picture of grace and elegance on the runway, settling for silver with 6.31 metres (-0.4m/s). Germany’s Maryse Luzolo was third with 6.24m (-1.5m/s) from the first round.
Jones joins an elite group which includes former World Youth octathlon champion Shane Brathwaite, who now concentrates on the 110M hurdles, and Ryan Brathwaite, the 2009 World Champion in the men’s 110M hurdles.
Barbadian track and field fans also held their breath minutes later when sprinter Levi Cadogan lined up against the best in the men’s 100 metres. With 10.39 seconds (-0.6m/s), Cadogan finished fourth as he made a very encouraging start to his professional career.
Kendal Williams of the United States upset the form book, winning in a personal best 10.21 seconds ahead of world junior record holder and compatriot Trayvon Brummell (10.28). Japan’s Kiryu Yoshihide took the bronze in 10.34.
The other Caribbean athletes in the final, Cejhae Greene (10.43) of Antigua and Barbuda and Jonathan Farinha (10.47) of Trinidad and Tobago, were fifth and eighth, respectively.
Today, Sada Williams will open her campaign in the women’s 200 metres, running out of lane seven of the third heat.
World Youth silver medallist Tia-Adana Belle will also take to the track in the women’s 400m hurdles. Belle is in the fourth heat and should have no challenges in qualifying among the first four. She is in lane one.
Meanwhile, Rivaldo Leacock will face his sternest test in the semi-finals of the men’s 400m hurdles. He will run out of lane one of the second heat, but there will be a familiar figure ahead of him. Jamaican Jaheel Hyde, who won the CARIFTA Games Under-18 title ahead of Leacock, will be in his sights in lane six. The top two in each heat, as well as the next two on times will advance to the final.
Yesterday, CARIFTA Under-20 champion Shamar Rock did not reach the final of the men’s long jump, finishing 17th overall with 7.20 metres. Jerrad Mason also did not reach the second round of the 400m hurdles, finishing sixth in his heat in 54.26 seconds.

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