By Noel Francis, Special to

Despite the notable absence of Michael O’Hara, the first day of the CARIFTA trials to select Jamaica’s top junior athletes to the Easter weekend games in Martinique saw some scintillating performances. A few of the athletes that stood out were Kimone Shaw, Raheem Chambers, Kiara Grant, Jaheel Hyde and Jonielle Smith.  Here are a few highlights:

Girls Under-18 100-meter final

Kimone Shaw of St. Jago High School underlined her class with another superb sprinting display on her way to victory in the girls’ Under-18 100-meter final in a personal best of 11.55 seconds. The victory is more stunning when one considers that she is only 14 years old. Another amazing feat, which occurred in the same race but overshadowed by Shaw’s blazing run, was the 3rd place finish by 12-year-old sensation Kiara Grant from The Convent of Mercy Academy (Alpha) in 11.84 seconds. A false start eliminated the defending CARIFTA champion Natalliah Whyte.

Boys Under-18 100-meter final

There was a buzz inside the National Stadium before the finalists settled in their starting blocks especially from a section of the grandstand occupied by some vocal supporters of the famed purples. The race featured the highly fancied K.C. duo of Jhevaughn Matherson and Akeem Bloomfield both of whom have posted some very fast times this season. However, those facts did not intimidate Raheem Chambers of St. Jago High who led after an explosive start and sped away from the field to record an emphatic victory in a personal best 10.28 seconds. It was such a devastating run that it immediately silenced the K.C supporters and sent shockwaves among the other finalists and audience. Bloomfield who looked to have stumbled slightly from the blocks ran well for second in a personal best 10.42 edging out St. Jago High’s Chad Walker 10.45. Jhevaughn Matherson rounded out the relay quartet with a personal best 10.50 seconds.

Boys Under-18 400m hurdles final

The multi-talented Jaheel Hyde continues to prove that he can adapt to any event. In his first year participating in the 400-meter hurdles, Hyde produced a scorching 51.06 seconds run in the boys’ Under-18 category. Some track fans who witnessed Hyde’s victory are convinced he can run much faster as he coasted for most the race. This performance has catapulted him into pole position as a serious gold medal contender in this event at the Boys & Girls championship in a few weeks’ time.

Other notable performances enjoyed by the fair size crowd include:

Girls Under-20 100-meter final

Jonielle Smith of Wolmer’s Girls after trailing the pack up to the 80-meter mark changed gear and produced a late burst of speed to overhaul her opponents and claim victory in a personal best 11.44 seconds. The impressive time sets up a mouthwatering clash at ‘champs’ and restores faith in Jamaican fans who believe the country will reclaim the girls’ Under-20 100-meter CARIFTA title in April a feat that has proved elusive for the last few years.

Boys Under-20 100-meter final

Jevaughn Minzie won the senior title after separating himself from the field at the mid-way mark; he posted a respectable 10.40 seconds with Raheem Robinson of Wolmer’s Boys snatching second spot in 10.48 seconds. Minzie who has had his fair share of drama for the last three years at the CARIFTA Games will be hoping for greater success this year in Martinique.


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