Shericka Jackson Dangerous in the 200m, But Don’t Jump the Gun

A sprinting machine named Shericka Jackson zoomed to the top of the world last Sunday evening after defeating her main Jamaican rivals in an anticipated 200m race at the Jamaica Trials in Kingston. The event was one of several of its kind in Europe and the Americas last Sunday (26) to select teams for the 2022 World Championship in Athletics next month, in Oregon, USA.

Jackson, an Olympic and World Championship medalist of all three colors, spanning the 400m, 100m, and the 4x400m and 4x100m relays, ran a stunning legal 21.55 to dethrone last year’s title holder Fraser-Pryce and defeat Thompson-Herah, the double, double Olympic champion. Now ranked the third fast woman in history over 200m, behind world record holder Florence Griffiths-Joyner (21.49) and Thompson-Herah (21.54), she will go to Oregon as the howling favorite to win the print double.

Winning might not so easy though, the days-to-be-27-yr-old will have to upstage Thompson-Herah, who last year was beaten solidly by Fraser-Pryce and her at the national trials but blew them away a month later at the Tokyo Olympics and subsequently ran fast to come within hair’s breadth of Flo-Jo’s world records.

A Different Shericka Jackson

Shericka Jackson is a more confident, and technically correct competitor in 2022 from how she was in 2021, but Thompson-Herah ability should not be discounted simply because she has switched coach. She should have had her previous training program in her head and on paper, and I see nothing that suggests she’s on the decline. With her persistent Achilles injury, trials and tribulations last year, she didn’t look as good this time then, even with her current shoulder problems, but there are reasons she’s a double-double Olympic champion.

Less we forget, many had written her off, yet her talent and mental fortitude pushed her to defy her harsh naysayers and managed her pain to turn the tables on Fraser-Pryce and Jackson in a manner that left no doubt about her mettle.

Her coach and husband Derron Herah has said his wife is in much better shape than her third-place finish in the 100m at Trials suggests. “Elaine is Elaine, and anytime the switch comes on, nothing can stop her,” he told the Jamaica Observer newspaper ahead of the 200m preliminaries. Her focus was to qualify for Oregon, and she was quite comfortable with being in the top three

Jackson, on the other hand, had a different goal; after her 100m victory, she promised something special in the 200m but said after that race she never expected 21.55 on Sunday. One detail in her post-race interview was quite a warning: “I made mistakes in the race,” she said (like she said she did after winning the 100m) and noted that she’ll correct them for Oregon. If she does, it is hair raising to think what she could do on that track renowned for producing speed.

3 Jamaican Women on a Mission

But she’s not the only Jamaican going to Oregon on a serious mission. Fraser-Pryce is determined to leave her seemingly final World Championships with a bang by defending her 100m World title, and Thompson is hunting her first World title(s) to add to her Olympic individual four.

All three women are experienced, highly talented and focused and victory in either of the sprint double will come down to who executes most precisely; the slightest error one makes, even in how she exhales midway the race, will be capitalized on immediately by the other. I’m sure Thompson-Herah remembers this from 2015, when she had the race against Dafne Schippers until she mis-stepped almost at the line, only to be nipped right there by the Dutchwoman. By the same token, Jackson will ensure she does not repeat the blunder she made in Tokyo, faltering in the heat of the 200m, her favorite event, and did not advance.

Would it be a surprise if Jackson takes the double in Oregon?  At the heart of her rise to a higher level, is a backstory of speculation that is swirling among Jamaicans who follow the sport, particularly because they believe they understand the temperament of Thompson-Herah’s former coach Stephen Francis of MVP and claim they know what he’s capable of doing.

Some have posited that although the eagle-eyed-for-talent Paul Francis, Stephen’s brother, is officially Jackson’s coach, it’s really the guru Stephen who has put together her training program; in essence he’s behind her success. The speculation goes further that Stephen engineered a plot to coach Jackson to dethrone Thompson-Herah as a revenge against Thompson-Herah (in particular) and Fraser-Pryce for leaving his camp after he turned them into world beaters. 

That reasoning simply discounts or minimizes Paul’s ability as an excellent coach and Jackson’s talent and hard work as a sprinter with range since high school, and paint Stephen as a vindictive man.

What Coach Francis Saw in 2015 

Couldn’t it simply be coincidental that when Thompson-Herah left MVP, Jackson stepped up to the speed that Francis, in 2015, saw her reaching when he thought she was better suited for the longer sprint and could soon reach the 47secs range over 400m. He also knew her potential for the quarter mile but only kept her away from the 200m because of the explosive start it demanded and which she didn’t have. Now she has it and runs a fierce bend. With her eyes well set on settling down in that discipline, Francis noted then that if she were to go out faster (in the 400m), she would be hard to beat, because none of her rivals could match her 400m strength and 200m speed. 

Running a track club is a business, and there’s money to be made with champions in the camp. Stephen Francis/MVP always has at least one athlete at the top of his/her game who can challenge the world: Bridgitte Foster Hylton, Asafa Powell, Sherone Simpson, Shericka Williams, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Kaliese Spencer, Michael Frater, Nesta Carter, Tajay Gayle, and Elaine Thompson-Herah. The sprinters listed have left or retired, and now it’s Jackson’s time with Paul Francis as her official coach at MVP, just as he was last year. If Jackson leaves, another or more will come forward; that’s just the trend at MVP. There seems to be a dangerous Shockoria Wallace in the making.

The idea about Francis bringing Jackson to beat Elaine out of revenge might not be what it looks like on the surface. Let’s not jump the gun before the race; it’s right around the corner. One thing possible though, the 100m, the 200m, or both could end in the record books under a Jamaican name.