Jamaican track sensation Veronica Campbell-Brown waved, bowed, then blew a kiss to the fans after storming to a resounding victory in the 200 meters on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
The two-time defending Olympic champion also signed an autograph or two shortly after blazing to a Kansas Relays-record clocking of 22.32, more than a second ahead of Natalie Knight, who was clocked in 23.39.
Campbell-Brown, who bettered fellow Jamaican superstar Aleen Bailey’s old-Relays record 22.51 set in 2001 when both athletes were students at Barton County Community College, spoke to the crowd of 3,000 on the public address system, then met with media members seconds after watching her husband, Omar Brown, win the men’s 200 in 20.84.
“There was no pressure at all,” Campbell-Brown said of doing what she was expected to do Saturday — dominate her specialty event. “I love what I do. It (record) was on my mind as I warmed up, because it’s been a long time. I felt like things were going great and I should go for it. I was confident I’d get it.”
The Adidas competitor smiled when asked if she would cell-phone her buddy, Bailey, to tell her that her record had been toppled.
“I think she should know,” Campbell-Brown said.
She was pleased for her husband, who clipped Brendan Christian (20.93).
“He’s had injuries. I’m happy to see him healthy again and very happy for him to compete and win,” said Campbell-Brown, who in 2012 is hoping to become the first athlete to win three consecutive 200 meter Olympic gold medals.
Omar Brown, who had ankle surgery in 2008, ran in just one race in ‘09. He met Veronica back in high school in Jamaica. They both attended BCCC and Arkansas.
“I’m proud of her because I’ve seen the struggles and hard work she put in every day,” Brown said. “For her to win all those gold medals (five) and championships, I’m happy for her.”
Brown was a dual winner on Saturday. The International All-Stars team of Brown, Jordan Boase, Kirkland Thornton and Erison Hurtault won the 1,600 relay in 3:08.3.
Campbell-Brown’s 1,600 relay team had a runner pull-up before resuming and finished fourth in a six-team field. The International All-Stars team of Kineke Alexander, Valerie Brown, Shellene Williams and Halimat Ismali prevailed in a meet record time of 3:35.65.
One of the most impressive performances of the day was turned in by Nike’s Ivory Williams. He won the 100 in a Relays record 9.95, just off his personal-best mark of 9.93. The old Relays record belonged to Adidas’ Brendan Christensen, who was clocked in 10.01 in 2007.
“I should be able to do that every time I step on the track,” said Nike’s Williams, a former University of Houston standout who was able to maintain focus through two false starts by others in the field that included two-time Olympian Churandy Martina. “This puts me on the map. I know a lot of people know I can run out there. I have a lot more work to do.”
Williams was named Relays top male performer, while Pembroke Hill senior/Baylor signee Tiffani McReynolds, who won the 100 hurdles (Relays record 13.73) and 100 dash (11.79) beat out Campbell-Brown for women’s MVP.
Kelly Wells of Nike took the 100 hurdles in 12.9. She defeated a strong field that included Pro Sports’ Nicole Demby, who pulled-up before the first hurdle and dropped out of the competition.
“It’s more a test of the mind,” Wells said of her specialty event. “We train day in and day out. It’s whoever is mentally strongest that day. In the U.S. there’s about 10 girls. We all run 12.5, 12.4. We are always each other’s competition,” she added.
Nike’s Dexter Faulk placed first against an elite 110 hurdle field in a time of 13.55, fourth fastest time in the U.S. this year.
“Myself and those 10 barriers,” Faulk said, asked who he had to beat on Saturday. “At the end of the day, you are your own competition. You can’t worry about everyone else. You’ve got to worry about yourself.”
The former Barton County CC runner, who has lived in Kansas City since 2002, has great aspirations in track and field.
“In my mind, I feel by the time the next Olympics and World Championships come around, it’ll be my time,” Faulk said. “I’m going for the win, the gold and the world record.”
KU’s winners on the final day of the Relays included Rebeka Stowe (1,500, 4:28.69), Lauren Bonds (800, 2:10.02), Don Wasinger (1,500, 3:51.55), Kyle Clemons (400, 46.94) and Mason Finley (discus, 187-6). Finley also won the shot put on Friday.