US wants sprint showdown with Jamaica
By Gene Cherry
RALEIGH, USA (Reuters): The United States wants a showdown with Jamaica to determine which country has the best sprinters, the top US athletics official said on Saturday.
"It was obvious to everyone (in Beijing) that with the rise of your country’s great sprinters and hurdlers, a compelling rivalry between Jamaica and the United States had developed," USA Track and Field (USATF) chief executive Doug Logan wrote in a letter outlining the proposal.
Jamaica, led by triple gold medalist Usain Bolt, dominated the sprints at the Beijing Olympic Games a year after the US produced the top sprinters at the 2007 world championships.
Logan proposed the USA-Jamaica Challenge in a letter sent to IAAF Council member and area representative Neville (Teddy) McCook of Jamaica and released by USATF.
The showdown would feature two competitions, one in each country. Potential dates were May and June, Logan added.
A competition between the sprint powers "would be a thrilling addition to the athletics schedule, not just for our athletes and fans, but for global athletics," Logan added.
Garth Gayle, general secretary of the Jamaican Amateur Athletic Association, said he wanted more details and more discussion of the proposal before commenting fully.
"Personally this seems to be a very interesting proposal, but until this is properly vetted by the executives of the association, I would not be so inclined to speak further on the matter," Gayle told Reuters by telephone from Jamaica.
Three or four competitors from each country would participate in the events, which would be the 100, 200 and 400 meters, the 4×100 and 4×400 sprint relays, plus the long jump and hurdles races (the 100 meters hurdles for women, the 110 hurdles for men and the 400 hurdles for both).
Jamaica won six of those events in Beijing (men’s 100, 200, 4×100 relay and women’s 100, 200 and 400 hurdles) and the United States took five (men’s 400, 400 hurdles, 4×400 relay and women’s 100 hurdles, 4×400 relay).
"Our sprinters are not ready to concede Jamaican dominance," Logan wrote. "Let us not forget that less than two years ago, it was the United States on top of three of the four short sprints and both sprint relays at the 2007 World Championships."