World champions Jesse Williams, high jump, and Carmelita Jeter, 100m, have been announced winners of this year’s Jesse Owen awards last night, which amounts to the highest sport honour in the USA, to wrap up magnificent seasons on the global stage.
A rather late bloomer approaching his 28 late next month, Williams showed his intentions from the indoor season when he spared plenty of daylight on the bar over an impressive 2.34m behind a dominant-in-the-term Ivan Ukhov (RUS) and picked up where he left off on his opener at Walnut with a straight global lead of 2.34m in May.
From there on, he built up through a string of sound performances on the Diamond League circuit, which he eventually topped, to peak to a PB of 2.37m in winning the US Trials in Eugene, which was meant to stay as the highest mark in the world this season.
Nevertheless, the crown to his campaign was set at the World Championships in Daegu where he weathered some earlier failures to rise over a decisive 2.35m at the first time of asking and claim the title on countback over Russian Aleksey Dmitrik. That was the first major title by an American in the high jump since Charles Austin‘s gold in the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.
Jeter, also a late developer herself, was no surprise by any means and had very much shown her credentials when she blazed into a brace of 10.6s late into the 2009 outdoor season but lacked a title to fully establish herself at the top of the world’s women sprinting. However, she made no mistakes about her business this time round, save the odd defeat on the way, to rise to the occasion and hold off great Venonica Cambell-Brown (JAM) to claim the global title in 10.90 (-1.4m/sec), having also set the fastest mark in the world in 10.70 secs on a perfect tailwind (2.0m/sec) at the Steve Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon.
She did deliver a surprise package in the longer sprint out of virtually nowhere, however, to place runner-up on three different ends; at the US Trials in Eugene, the global lists in a PB of 22.20 secs in Monaco (-0.4m/sec) and eventually a silver medal in Daegu behind Campbell-Brown – which might have been gold but for a rather careless mistake midway through the home straight.