Estimation of Merlene's Sydney possibilities


Sydney Guess:
Can she make her training work (and convince the JAAA that she should be selected for the Olympic 100 metre team), Merlene will have her dream come true and qualify to be on the start line for the 100 metre final in Sydney. Originally my opinion was that Merlene's medal hopes would hinge on the 4 x 100 metre relay, where Jamaica has very good possibilities for a silver or a bronze medal (behind USA and/or the Bahamas). 
But the last month has really boosted my Sydney optimism regarding Merlene's possibilities: On 11 August at the Weltklasse meeting she beat almost all her main competitors for a possible Olympic bronze medal and on 30 August she set a season best of 10.99 sec. in Thessaloniki. With her blazing 10.91 sec. victory in Runaway Bay on 10 September I now strongly believe that she has good chances for an individual medal in Sydney! 

One thing you can really say about Merlene is that she has tried all this before. Merlene has more experience with Olympic finals than her main competitors altogether (amazing!!!). She has participated in 3 Olympic 100 metre finals and 5 Olympic 200 metre finals as well as 4 Olympic 4 x 100 metre finals. And maybe most importantly - much more than any of her competitors Merlene's season is fully focused on the Olympic Games. The other girls have been running in Grand Prix races (since June) and might be a bit tired by September.
Her normal weak point - the start - seemed over with at Weltklasse and may turn into an advantage as she led the race for the first 60 metres. Also in Thessaloniki she had a start just as good as 60 metre specialist Sevatheda Fynes. Maybe her training with coach Sryidian Djordevic is really beginning to show some good results!

The main concern is that Merlene (her age being considered) will have difficulties running four fast 100 metre races (preliminary, quarterfinal, semifinal and final) in less than 36 hours. This was her problem at the Jamaican Trials, though in Sydney her form (physically and mentally) should be way better than it was in Kingston in July. In her training sessions in Ljubliana and Australia she has shown increasing stability in running fast races within short periods of time (at intervals of approximately 45 minutes). So this weakness may turn out to be of minor importance.



Merlene's 2000 Progression

Date Venue Time Wind Place
2000-07-12 Nuoro, Sardinia, Italy 11.42 WR(40)  0.6 1
2000-07-20 Kingston, Jamaica (Trials) 11.09 WR(40) 1.1 1
2000-07-21 Kingston, Jamaica (Trials) 11.15
2000-08-11 Zürich, Switzerland 11.06 WR(40) -1.2 3A
2000-08-14 Ljubliana, Slovenia
11.00 WR(40)
2000-08-25 Bruxelles, Belgium 11.18 -1.2 6
2000-08-30 Thessaloniki, Greece 10.99 WR(40) -0.6 1
2000-09-10 Runaway Bay, Australia 11.16

* WR(40) = world age record for women at the age of 40.

Estimation of Merlene's competitors

Name (Country) SB & PB Description of possibilities Sydney
Marion Jones (USA)

10.78 (10.65)

Not much to say - she is the gold favourite, but she has not won the final yet! She is maybe too confident to be aware of her strong competitors!!!  Gold
Ekaterini Thanou (GRE)


10.91 (10.83)


Has not been competing much with her main rivals before Sydney, but she has been very fast in her races. Being pressed in Sydney she can improve from last years bronze. Silver
Inger Miller (USA)



10.91 (10.79)



Has really improved from a slow start this season. Inger Miller is a championship athlete so she is a very strong medal contender and with a good start she may even press Jones. Bronze
Merlene Ottey (JAM) 10.99 (10.74) See above. Final (3-5)
Sevatheda Fynes (BAH)




11.03 (10.91)




Only 4th at the Bahamian Trials, but selected for the team anyway (instead of Pauline Davis). Although she has not run under 11 seconds yet, Fynes has been showing increasing form and stability (no. 2 in Brussels and Berlin). Importantly she is probably the best starter of all! Final (3-5)
Christine Arron (FRA)





10.99 (10.73)




Really needs to work on her start, but if she gets that right she is faster than Marion Jones in the last 30 metres and she can win the gold medal! She is the big questionsmark at these Games. On the other hand with a bad start in a semifinal she might not even make the final!!! Final (6-8)
Debbie Ferguson (BAH)


10.96 (10.96)


Still needs to show her potential at championships. Almost all her fast times have been run on homeground, but she has shown increasing form in August's Grand Prix races.  Final (6-8)
Zhanna Pintusevich (UKR)




10.94 (10.85)




Since 1997's World Championship a championship athlete that usually shows her best, when she has to. But recently her form has decreased and considering this she will have problems reaching a final. Final (6-8)
Tanya Lawrence (JAM)



11.07 (11.07)



Maybe Merlene's heir. In August she has shown great form in Europe finishing fourth in Brussels and third in Berlin. Having a good day she is a possible finalist. Semifinal
Chandra Sturrup (BAH)



10.86 (10.86)



A very fast time at the national trials and a top-3 finisher in most 2000 GP-races. Would normally be a strong contender for a bronze medal in Sydney, but she seems to be struggling with an injury. Assuming she wont get over that only a semifinalist. Semifinal
Chryste Gaines (USA)

10.97 (10.89)

Very unstable and her recent form will not secure her an Olympic final.  Semifinal
Mary Onyali (NIG)



10.99 (10.97)



It has been a long time since Mary Onyali has shown her face at big meetings. But with a sub-11 time this season an Olympic semifinal is realistic. Semifinal
Myriam Leonie Mani (CMR)


11.01 (11.01)


Came out of the blue this season and she might be able to qualify for a Sydney semifinal. Semifinal
Beverly McDonald (JAM)

11.11 (10.99)

Another veteran from Jamaica (30 years), but she is way better over the double distance. It is still unknown if she will particpate at this distance in Sydney, but she can make it to the semifinal if she will. Semifinal
Natalya Voronova (RUS)

11.11 (10.98)

The two-time Olympic finalist (1988 & 1996) should be glad to reach the semifinal this time, but she is also 35 years of age. Semifinal
Susanthika Jayesinghe (SRI)


11.04 (11.04)


Has improved her form in September with a personal best. The only Asian bit for a semifinal. Semifinal
Natalya Ignatova (RUS)
11.12 (11.12)
Russian champion but I don't know anything else about her!!! Quarterf.
Marina Trandenkova (RUS)

11.17 (11.06)

An olympic finalist four years ago, but considering her best time this season she must fight to reach even the semifinal. Quarterf.
Mercy Nku (NIG)


11.31 (11.03)


A finalist in Seville but surely not in form for repeating that success in Sydney. Quarterf.
Lyubov Perepelova (UZB)

11.04 (11.04)

She has come out of nowhere and has produced one great run this season. I do not even know if she will compete in Sydney!!! ?
Peta-Gaye Dowdie (JAM)




11.13 (11.03)




Has not yet shown how fast she really can be and that is a problem since she might loose her individual 100 metre place to Merlene Ottey. She had no success over this distance at last years World Championships. ?

Written 15 September 2000 by Jakob Munkhĝj Nielsen (Homepage)


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