As with the men’s event, the women’s deuce suffers from a lack of real competition among it’s best competitors – possibly even more so. Ninety three times women have broken the 22 second barrier with legal wind – none did so in 2011. As a matter of fact, there have only been nine such marks in the New Millennium! None at all in ’01, ’02, ’03, ’04, ’05, ’06 and this year. Compare that to the twenty eight marks under 11 seconds that were churned out in 2011, and we have an event that is sorely underdeveloped – crying out for someone to just take it over!
This year didn’t get going until May, but then started out as if it were going to be one of those banner years, as Veronica Campbell Brown (JAM) and Shelly Ann Fraser (JAM) went head to head in Kingston and Fraser upsetting VCB with a sizzling early season 22.10w. It would be the fastest time of the year under any conditions and we would only see VCB and Fraser a combined five more times during the season – Campbell Brown three times and Fraser two. And so would go the season.
Defending World champion Allyson Felix embarked on a sprint double for Daegu so split her time between here and the 400. The 400 strength paid off early with wins in Daegu (Pre Worlds, Jun 12) and New York, but her lack of sizzling times was a portent for the future. Actually a portent for the season as up to the June “National Championships” period for various countries, no one really put down a marker that said “I am this year’s favorite” – especially with VCB already sporting a loss.
Then at U.S. Nationals we finally had some fireworks, as Shalonda Solomon blitzed the year’s fastest legal time with her 22.15 win. The real surprise, however, was the second place finish of Carmelita Jeter as her semi (22.24) and final (22.23) made her a serious contender heading into Daegu. A 22.20 win in Monaco during the summer (over Felix among others) solidified her credentials. And with VCB competing only once more before Daegu (off the grid in Budapest) and Felix not looking sharp, the year’s preseason favorites looked like they could give way to an upstart at Worlds.
An “upstart” who would not get that opportunity was Bianca Knight (USA) who placed fourth at Nationals, but came back over the summer to take victories in Rome, Birmingham, and London! So entering the World Championships, Daegu would be the only race of the season where all the main combatants would go head to head, with Knight the only heavyweight not in attendance.
The World Championships would see the seldom raced Veronica Campbell Brown take gold ahead of the U.S. trio of Jeter, Feiix and Solomon, as Jeter nearly pulled off the upset win – sporting a blazing bend before VCB finally found her gear in the second half of the stretch to take the win. Jeter would return to take the last big race of the season winning in Zurich ahead of Felix, Fraser, Solomon, and Knight et al. – with Campbell Brown not in attendance.
With the season in the books, two things made this event very difficult to rank. One was the minimal season put in by Veronica Campbell Brown, as she raced here in only four meets, including Daegu. The other was the failure of Bianca Knight to make the U.S. team, because she was clearly one of the better sprinters during the European Circuit. Taking everything into account, however, here is how I finally ranked the top five.
|#1||Veronica Campbell Brown||Jamaica|
I hate to play “rock, paper, scissors” when ranking athletes – A beat B, B beat C, and C beat A so ….. Which really leaves this year’s World Championships as the biggest meet of the year in more ways than one. With the exception of Knight, VCB took on everyone that mattered and came out on top – and did so convincingly. Couple that with the fact she had the best record on the season percentage wise at 4 – 1, and I have to give her the nod – though barely.
|#2||Carmelita Jeter||United States|
Jeter had the best set of marks on the season as she hammered out four races of 22.2x – easily the top set of marks this year. Unfortunately, she was only 4 – 4 on the season, and in the one race where she got the opportunity to face Campbell Brown she came up a bit short. A win in Daegu and she ranks #1 in her first serious attempt at the distance. The loss leaves her at #2.
|#3||Allyson Felix||United States|
Spots three, four and five were more difficult than one would think – mostly because of the presence of Bianca Knight on the European Circuit. Felix was only 2 – 4 on the year, however, this Ro Sham Bo season left most of the top women with “negative” seasons. In the end Felix was 2 – 2 with Knight, and came home with bronze over Solomon at Worlds and thus grabs the #3 slot here.
|#4||Shalonda Solomon||United States|
Finding a ranking slot was a similar situation with Solomon who, in spite of her world leading 22.15 at Nationals, was only 2 – 4 on the year. Among her races she met Knight 3 times, beating her twice, the big one being her finish ahead of her in Zurich. That and her fourth place finish land Solomon my #4 spot.
|#5||Bianca Knight||United States|
Knight actually had one of the best records in the event this season at 4 – 5, with three of those wins in Rome, Birmingham and London. Her fourth place at U.S. Trials cost her, however, as she missed the year’s biggest race, and after finishing behind Felix and Solomon more often than ahead, I can only find room for her here at #5.
So went an interesting year in the women’s deuce. Next I’ll take a look at the men and women’s 400.