Rhonda Whyte at the American Track League in Los Angeles

Several Jamaican Tokyo-bound athletes, including Yohan Blake, Rhonda Whyte and Megan Tapper staged their final tune-ups for the upcoming Olympic Games at the 2021 American Track League Los Angeles meeting in Orange County, California, on Sunday (18). The event was the fifth stop in the series and the second in LA.

Whyte Happy To Get Another Race In

Whyte battled through the wind and the heat to earlier in the day to secure the victory in the women’s 400m hurdles in 55.57 secs. Although the time wasn’t really fast, the Jamaican Olympic Trials runner-up was satisfied with her performance, noting that the race was another part of training preparation for the Tokyo Olympics.

“Today was just another race day for me, all I wanted [was] to get another race in before I get to Tokyo,” Whyte told ESPN during her interview.

“Preparations have been going on well. All I have to do now is to stay focus and stay healthy.”

Grace Claxton of Puerto Rico was second in 56.26s with Canada’s Noelle Montcalm getting third in 56.37.

Minzie and Blake Copped Sprint Races

Jevaughn Minzie, who is part of Jamaican relay pool for Tokyo, was credited with the victory in the men’s 100m with a wind-assisted time of 10.09 seconds (2.3 m/s) after sharing the same time with USA’s Chris Royster. Travis Collins of Guyana was just a step behind in 10.10.

Jamaican champion Tyquendo Tracey who entered the race as the favorite had to settle for fourth in 10.11s, with his countrymen Jazeel Murphy (10.15) and Javoy Tucker (10.22) crossing in sixth and seventh, respectively.

Blake, running his first 200m overseas this season, was timed at 20.22 seconds (1.8 m/s) in the event and just held on to take the win over the fast-finishing Rasheed Dwyer (20.22), as Jamaica captured the first four slots in the race.

READ MORE: When will track and field begin at the Tokyo Olympic Games?

Minzie returned from his 100m victory to clock a personal best of 22.29s for third place in the 200m, while Murphy also improved his personal best when getting fourth in 20.49s.

Hill Secures Sprint Double

Candace Hill of USA at American Track League in Los Angeles
Candace Hill of USA at American Track League in Los Angeles

Assisted by a 2.5m/s wind, American Candace Hill powered away from the field to win the women’s 100m in 10.99s. Although her performance was achieved with a wind reading that was over the allowable limit, the 22-year-old was still pleased to run sub-11 seconds.

“This is my first time running 10-seconds since 2015 so I am pleased with that,” Hill said after the victory. “I definitely felt the tailwind,” she added.

Tristan Evelyn of Barbados ran 11.23s for second place, while third went to Jamaica’s Remona Burchell in 11.24s.

Hill returned 50 minutes later to complete the sprint double when she stopped the clock at 22.30, assisted by a 3.3m/s tailwind and she was also happy about her performance, stating that after being forced to pull out of the 200m at the U.S. Olympic Trials, “I am glad to be back.”

Jamaica’s Tovea Jenkins, the fifth-place finisher at the Jamaica Trials, posted a time of 51.53s to dominate the women’s 400m race. Jaide Stepter of the USA was second in 51.87 with another Jamaican Anastasia Le-Roy collecting third in 51.99.

Tapper Runs Fast With The Wind, But Still Happy Win, Time

Megan Tapper of Jamaica wins at American Track League
Megan Tapper of Jamaica wins the 100m hurdles at American Track League

Megan Tapper of Jamaica screamed when she crossed the finishing line in the women’s 100m hurdles and saw 12.48s before quickly realizing that the time was assisted by a +3.6 m/s wind which is well over the allowable reading.

Nevertheless, the Jamaica Olympic Trials champion was delighted with her performance, noting that this was another forward step in her preparations for the Games.

“It was another stepping-stone. Another stepping block to see where I was,” the all-smiling and super pumped Tapper said. “I ran 12.4, I mean plus 3 (wind reading) but it’s still 12.4.”

Evonne Britton of the USA ran home for second place in 12.72, with Jamaica’s Yanique Thompson who will also represent the nation in the sprint hurdles in Tokyo, finishing third in 12.75.

Americans Erica Bougard (13.20) and Annie Kunz (13.25), using the race as part of their preparations for the heptathlon at the Olympics, finished fifth and sixth, respectively.

The men’s 400m event went to American Khallifah Rosser with a season’s best of 45.74, overtaking Jamaica’s Nathon Allen (45.89) in the closing meters to secure the win. Demish Gaye of Jamaica, the fourth-place finisher at the 2019 world championships in Doha, was only fourth in this race in 46.04.

Meanwhile, USA’s Sinclaire Johnson stepped down in distance to win the women 800m with a solid time of 2:00.63, while the men’s race went to Brannon Kidder who clocked 1:45.26. Isaac Updike (3:58.26) and Liam Meirow (3:59.40) cheered on by the small appreciative gathering, and paced by Craig Engles, both managed to break four minutes in the men’s mustache-mile run.

In the lone field event competiton, American Darrell Hill threw 21.35m to win the men’s Shot Put over Italian Nick Ponzio who did 20.90m. Chase Ealey captured the women’s contest with a mark of 19.45m seasonal best.

Click here for complete results from the meet.

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