By Noel 'Bravo' Francis, Special

800-Metre Class 1

As mentioned earlier, this memorable final last year had everyone on edge and it received a standing ovation at the end. In one of the closest distance races ever, the top four athletes were involved in a photo finish. This dramatic race was so close that second place was almost a tie with both the Calabar and Kingston College runners registering identical times 1:52.91 only separated by a whisker 0.002 of a second after thorough examination. The results say it all: 

1.      Kevon Robinson – Spaulding High       1:52.21
2.      Jorel Bellafonte –   Calabar                     1:52.91      1:52.904
3.      Brian Smith   –      Kingston College      1:52.91      1:52.906
4.      Herbert Thomas –  Munro College          1:52.98
5.      Rajay Hamilton   – Lennon High            1:53.29

Many middle and long distance track fans might experience all over again those emotions that emanated throughout this event last year. Many of the finalists from last year should return along with some great runners transferring from their rural schools to Kingston. If the eligibility issues are fine then we shall witness another fantastic race. Calabar’s Bellafonte easily dismissed the challenge of Spaulding High’s Kevon Robinson in the heats of the boys’ Under-20 800-metre at the Jamaica CARIFTA trials.

However, Bellafonte who will represent the Cayman Islands at the CARIFTA games was not eligible for the finals. Nevertheless, he looked very strong in the heats where he experimented with an uncharacteristic front running strategy from start to finish winning in 1:53.19. I firmly believe that Jorel Bellafonte is the slight favourite to win the gold medal, however, his name is not on the medal. Jorel’s Calabar teammate Rajay Hamilton won the CARIFTA trials final in a smart 1:51.90 and will play a crucial role in this event.

Robinson who finished second at the trials in 1:51.97 is promising a better showing at ‘Champs’ and is confident of winning. Robinson’s teammate Chadowe Dawson is a serious contender as well. The K.C. pair of Miguel Morrison and Delano Rochester will be planning to make a mockery of the experts’ predictions. There will be no ‘Rabbits’ in this race and it will gather momentum at the bell lap. The athletes to watch here are:

1.      Kevon Robinson   –   Spaulding High
2.      Chadowe Dawson   – Spaulding High
3.      Jorel Bellafonte –    Calabar
4.      Rajay Hamilton –     Calabar
5.      Delano Rochester – Kingston College
6.      Miguel Morrison –   Kingston College
7.      Paul Tate           –    St. Elizabeth Technical High
8.      Tariq Fullerton  –    Munro College
9.      Ryan Dunkley –      Petersfied High School

I believe a sub 1:50.00 clocking is in store. The question is how many athletes will do it.

 1500-Metre Class 1

The rekindled rivalry between Calabar and Kingston College through defending champion Jorel Bellafonte and Delano Rochester will be the highlight of this event. Bellafonte with his elongated stride pattern ran his usual tactical race last year staying out of trouble at the back of field before picking off his opponents one by one. K.C.’s Rochester will need to counter that strategy by employing a more aggressive approach, make Bellafonte’s life more difficult, and hope Bellafonte’s expected dash to the finish line is too late this time around.

One athlete who can upset them all is Chadoye Dawson of Spaulding High School. Dawson has been keeping a low profile until he surfaced at the CARIFTA trials winning the event in a smart 3:55.91, the fastest time this season. He could dictate the pace and outcome of this race, however, ‘Champs’ pressure is a big factor.

Other athletes who could have a say in the result of this race are Munro College’s Tariq Fullerton, Paul Tate of STETHS, Larone Haye of St. Jago, Edwin Allen’s Akeem Francis and Tion Gray of Petersfield High. Rajay Hamilton of Calabar should collaborate with Bellafonte. It will not be a surprise if many of the athletes in this field run below 3:57.00. This epic final could bring the crowd to its feet. Will Bellafonte defend his title in his ‘Champs’ farewell?

We will close out this year’s ‘Champs’ countdown in a blaze of glory when we feature the exciting and emotional relays.


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