The 36th staging of MILO Western Relays was launched on Wednesday, (January 22nd ) at The Wexford Hotel in Montego Bay. The meet runs off on Saturday February 8th at the Montego Bay Sports Complex at midday and will end under lights at9:00 pm.
Chairman of the organizing committee, Ray Harvey said that athletes from primary, prep and secondary schools, clubs and institutions including the entire MVP Track Club, GC Foster College, Sprintec, Swept, UTech, UWI, new comers Cameron Blazers and Comets, amounting to over one hundred (100) teams will compete this year.
He also said that the excitement of the meet extended to the battle of the relays which will attract prize monies for the top four positions in the amounts of $30,000; $15,000; $10,000 and $5,000 for the top four finishers. The 4x800M, 4x400M and the 4x100M Class 1 for girls and boys are the prize money relays.
He also announced that Marvin Williams (400mH) of St. Elizabeth High School, Jahleel Hyde (110mH) of Wolmer's and Yanique Thompson of Holmwood were the Gleaner Youthlink Awardees. All three athletes were gold medalists at last year's World Youth Championship where Hyde ran a championship record and Thompson ran a world junior record after being the first junior to ran the 100mH under 13 sec. in a time of 12.94 sec
The meet patron is Maurice Wilson – former head coach of Holmwood, lecturer at GC Foster College and head coach of the national team.
Consumer Marketing Manager at Nestlé with responsibility for MILO, Karen Willis-Mussington announced this year's sponsorship of six million dollars ($6M). She congratulated the organizers for staging a first class, sought after event year after year. A special grant of two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000) was made to Holmwood Technical in recognition of the school's achievement in sports and particularly track and field. The grant was made to celebrate Nestlé sponsorship of MILO Western Relays for twenty (20) consecutive years.
The (6th) MILO Sports Nutrition and Lifestyle Clinic followed the launch. The presenters were Nestlé's nutritionist Kristha-Gay Lewis-Harewood and Dr. Garfield Campbell, vice president of the Sports Medicine Association whose presentation on anti-doping in sports was well received by the many coaches who attended.
Former Olympic 400mH record holder Deon Hemmings-McCatty delivered a timely motivational speech at the launch. She shared her own life experiences of highs and lows to encourage the athletes "not to fear failure as there is no shortcut to anything good in life." Additionally she told them to pay attention to their school work as track and field as a career had a limited life span so they should plan for life after their competitive years.