By Noel 'Bravo' Francis, Special to TrackAlerts.com
For the past six years, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt has dominated the men’s 200-metres this includes the last three World Championships and two Olympics Games. Those achievements might have inspired a generation that includes 2013 World Youth Champion Michael O’Hara, Rasheed Dwyer the 2011 gold and 2013 silver medallist at the World University Games, 2011 World University Games silver medallist Jason Young, 2011 World Championships silver and 2012 Olympic Games bronze medallist Warren Weir and 2012 Olympic Games silver medallist Yohan Blake.
Some persons believe the country’s domination of this event will last a few more years based on the talent coming out of the clubs, universities and high schools. We now feature some of the key young athletes and possible showdowns expected in this event at ‘Champs’ 2014. .
200-Metre Class 3
Calabar should stamp their authority on this event as they have undoubtedly the best sprinters in this class. The outstanding pair of Tyreke Wilson and Christopher Taylor is on target to claim the top 2 spots and 16 points in this event for the school. Tyreke Wilson cruised to a very fast 21.95 seconds at the Corporate Area Development Meet on March 1, 2014.
The impressive ‘Champs’ record of 21.87 seconds for this event set last year by Jhevaughn Matherson is now under threat. Wilson has vowed to break both the 100m and 200m records at ‘Champs’ and his bold declaration of running 21.5 seconds in the final seems like youthful exuberance. However, Wilson’s supporters will argue that once he can back up his talk it will not be considered bragging.
His teammate Christopher Taylor registered 22.30 seconds at the same Corporate Area meet and is very confident at this time. The other competitors’ season bests are a further second or two behind Wilson’s time. Those fighting for the bronze medal that is up for grabs are Travis Williams of Gaynstead High, Jordan Roberts of Jamaica College and the K.C duo Yashawn Hamilton and Kadez Sutherland.
200-Metre Class 2
Another cracking race is in store with the usual suspects returning after Friday night’s 100-metre final. Jhevaughn Matherson (K.C.) and Raheem Chambers (St. Jago) renew their rivalry, but another K.C. competitor in Akeem Bloomfield might be the surprise package and the one to watch if selected to run the event. I heard that Bloomfield is much better at the 200-metre event and agree wholeheartedly after seeing him winning comfortably at the Queens/Grace Jackson Track Meet in 21.89 seconds and looking in ominous condition. In fact, Kingston College has the most potent sprinters in this age group and can call up Nathaniel Bann who clocked 21.86 seconds at the Corporate Area Development Meet on March 1, 2014.
All the young men mentioned so far are fine sprinters and should bring a lot of euphoria to ‘Champs’. I previously thought that a serious challenge would come from Western Champs winner Leroy Francis of STETHS who ran 21.85 seconds to claim that title in February; however, he looked out of sorts at the CARIFTA trials. I hope his confidence is still intact and he will produce a better showing at ‘Champs’ as this event demands quality performers.
Raheem Chambers should be the slight favourite going into this event. His reputation received a setback last year and he is determined to convince track fans that he is a future star. I hope all the participants are fit and healthy for this event with at least three of them ready to run below 21.5 seconds.
This big 200m clash between St. Jago High’s Chambers and Kingston College’s duo Matherson & Bloomfield should have taken place earlier at the CARIFTA trials but it fail to materialize for one reason or another. The stage is now set for their first meeting this season. Based on my observation fans can expect an explosive start from Chambers who should come off the curve first and then the fast finishing response from the K.C. pair.
200-Metre Class 1
In my view, this is one of the highlight races of the championships, I expect the first five finishers to run below 21 seconds. The Calabar pair of Michael O’Hara and Javon Francis, along with Jevaughn Minzie of Bog Walk High, Zharnel Hughes of K.C., Devaughn Baker of J.C and the versatile Martin Manley of St.Jago will create lasting memories. Hughes posted an easy looking 20.80 seconds in a negative head wind of -2.0 at the Corporate Area Athletics Games on March 1, 2014. The adjusted time would have been in the region of 20.62 seconds.
The combative Michael ‘Skeletor’ O’Hara who ran a personal best of 20.63 to capture the IAAF World Youth Championships title in Donetsk, Ukraine last year will be seeking to crown himself in glory in his first year in class 1. O’Hara’s teammate and RJR’s People’s Choice Performance Award winner Javon Francis (20.82), will be aiming to secure the 200m, 400m double in his final year. Jevaughn Minzie with a personal best of 20.85 is a dangerous contender and could surprise, however, he sometimes struggle on the big occasions. This could be one of the reasons Minzie despite his obvious talent has not won a medal in this event after two years of competing in this class. This is his third and final attempt.
In one of the strongest field ever assembled in ‘Champs’ history this one is too close to call and it might come down to the wire with the winner coming from any of the big three O’Hara, Francis or Hughes. O’Hara has not lost a 200m final at ‘Champs’ since 2011 and is aiming to be the overall champion boy three years in a row.
I believe the ‘champs’ schedule could have an impact on the outcome of this event on Saturday evening. Both O’Hara and Hughes should be fresh after resting almost a day after Friday night’s 100m final. However, Javon Francis’ fitness and character will be severely tested as he should compete in the 400m final at 2:40 p:m and the 200m final exactly three hours later. The lane assignments could play a very important role in the outcome of this race especially if one of the favourites occupy lane six. If the wind conditions are perfect and the rain stays away, Usain Bolt’s existing record (20.25 seconds) should be under serious threat for the second year running.
In the next feature, we will be concentrating on the sprint and 400-metre hurdles events alongside the Class 1 triple and high jump competitions.