BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Jamaica has had plenty of big nights at world championships over the decades. Never one quite like this.
Athletes from the island of sun and sprints won five medals Thursday night, four of which came in hurdles and long jump. The other came in the 400 meters.
The five-medal haul brings Jamaica's total to eight in Budapest, placing it second on the medals table, only behind the United States, which has 19.
Big-medal nights like these are almost always headlined by Jamaica's sprinters — the likes of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Elaine Thompson-Herah and, not all that long ago, Usain Bolt.
This night, they came from different corners.
Possibly the biggest surprise was a victory in the 100-meter hurdles by Danielle Williams, whose other world title came back in 2015, when Bolt was preparing for this third and final Olympics.
Racing in the inside lane, Williams produced a season best time of 12.43, edging out Olympic record holder Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico by .01 seconds.
“I was just minding my own business over there,” Williams said. “I couldn't really see what else was going on.”
The eight years in between titles were a test for the 30-year-old Williams, who conceded she thought about giving up on her track career “every year, every single year.”
Such is the difficulty of staying at the top in one of the most stacked events on the track program. It's an event that has produced a different champion at the last six major championships.
Since her win in Beijing in 2015, Williams had only been back on the podium once at a major event, taking bronze in 2019 at the worlds in Doha. She said she kept pushing because “I love competing and I love competing against the best. I kept on believing in myself, and I really love this sport with all my heart.”
Later in the day, Jamaica took silver and bronze in the men's long jump — two of only five medals the country has earned in that event since the world athletics championships began 40 years ago.
Wayne Pinnock and Tajay Gayle took second and third place, respectively, coming in just behind Miltiadis Tentoglou of Greece, who jumped 8.52 meters in his last attempt to win the gold. The previous day, Pinnock had a qualifying jump of 8.54 meters. Gayle had won gold at the worlds in Doha in 2019.
Later in the night, 21-year-old Antonio Watson took gold in the 400 with a time of 44.22 seconds, while Rushell Clayton rounded out her country's big day by taking bronze in the women’s 400 meter hurdles with a personal best time of 52.81 seconds.
A great night for Clayton capped a great night for Jamaica.
“Best run of my life,” she said.
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