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Shericka Jackson
Shericka Jackson

Jackson more focused on individual Olympic gold than Flo-Jo’s record

First athlete to win medals in 100, 200 and 400 metres, including 4x100 and 4x400 metres relays

OSLO: Jamaican track star Shericka Jackson said Wednesday that an individual Olympic gold at this summer’s Paris Games weighed more on her mind than bettering the long-standing women’s 200m world record.

Jackson, 29, has accrued a hatful of global medals and is the first athlete in world championship history to win medals in the 100, 200 and 400 metres, including the 4x100 and 4x400 metres relays. She is also a five-time Olympic medallist, the sole gold coming as part of Jamaica’s 4x100m relay winning team at the Covid-delayed Tokyo Games in 2021.

Having initially been a 400m specialist, she moved down to the sprints and claimed 100m bronze in the Japanese capital before nabbing two world titles over 200m in 2022 and 2023 in Eugene and Budapest respectively.

“Yeah definitely, I have not had an individual gold medal in the Olympic Games,” Jackson said of her motivation for victory outside of the traditionally strong Jamaican women’s relay teams. In an interview with AFP ahead of the Oslo Diamond League on Thursday, she added: “In 2021 (in Tokyo) I wanted one and I did not even make it to the 200, so definitely it’s something that I’m looking forward to, something I’m working towards.

“I definitely hope I will achieve it by the end of the coming Olympics.” Turning to the world record of 21.34 seconds in the 200m, set by Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988, Jackson was less forthcoming. “I don’t let what the media wants eat me up mentally because I think a lot of persons might get carried away by just being focused on ‘Oh I want to break the world record, I want to do this or that’. “You probably have it in mind but you’re not going to put it at the forefront, like okay then I’m going to break the world record today and whatever, because what if you’re not mentally strong and then you don’t break the world record, then it will play on your mind.”

Shelly-Ann the role model

Jackson, the second fastest woman of all time over 200m and fifth fastest in the 100m, said it was all about timing and execution. “For me personally it’s just once I execute a good race then I definitely will run a fast time.” Jackson made a late opening to her season at the Diamond League meet in Marrakesh, where she, in her own words, fairly laboured to victory in 22.82 seconds. Things have changed since then, she admitted, with her and coach Stephen Francis working on ways so she lose some weight.

“After Marrakesh we reconsidered a lot of stuff, especially my body weight, and I think we did pretty good over the past two weeks with dropping down a little bit,” she told AFP. “We’re not where we want to be in terms of body weight, but we’re right there and we have two months to go, so we’re working on a few things which have been working.

“Once coach get me in the right shape, which I definitely know he will at the right time, then anything is possible.” Jackson said her most poignant Olympic memory involved one of her senior teammates, the multi-medal winning Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, a five-time 100m world champion.

“The only person I watched growing up is probably some of the quarter milers and Shelly-Ann,” she said, with Fraser-Pryce winning her first Olympic 100m gold in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Jackson said now racing alongside Fraser-Pryce was “good because you definitely know she’s going to show up so you have to ensure that your spikes are very tight and you’re on your piece”.

“It’s always good to compete with persons that are hard working and when they go at the line you definitely know you’ll have to bring my ‘A game’, I can’t make any mistakes because all of us are right there and all of us want to win and compete at our best. “I just love competing with her.” — AFP

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