By Noel 'Bravo' Francis, Special to TrackAlerts.com
On March 29, 2014, another exciting chapter ended on Jamaica’s all-island supremacy athletics competition dubbed ‘Champs’ at the National Stadium. Over 21 records were broken and several athletes achieved personal bests over five days of pulsating action. We now take a look back at some of the thrills and spills that made ‘Champs’ 2014 such a memorable showpiece.
CLASS 1 – 100M
The boys Class 1 100m final lived up to its billing despite missing one of the main attractions in Michael O’Hara who shockingly false started in his semi-final. History was created when Anguillan superstar and National hero in waiting Zharnel Hughes, representing KC, erased Yohan Blake’s ‘Champs’ record of 10.21 seconds and set a new time transposing the last two digits (10.12). It was a stunning run from a young man who has captured the hearts of Jamaicans with his superb sprinting ability. The ubiquitous Jevaughn Minzie in his final 100m at ‘Champs’ also dipped under the previous record producing a personal best of 10.16 seconds to win silver. It was a breathtaking duel between both athletes, which had the spectators on edge throughout the 10 seconds. A similar clash between both athletes (Hughes & Minzie) awaits track fans at the World Juniors in Eugene Oregon, U.S.A.
The girls Class 1 100m final, which many thought would have been a massive showdown turned out to be a one-woman show as Christania Williams demolished the field winning in 11.19 seconds. This was a new personal best for Williams and the closest anyone had been in many moons to Veronica Campbell-Brown’s ‘Champs’ record of 11.13 seconds established in 2001.
CLASS 2 100M
The boys Class 2 final produced the first record in the 100m sprints. A colossal clash was expected between St. Jago’s Raheeem Chambers and Kingston College pair Jhevaughn Matherson and Akeem Bloomfield. The fans saw a spectacular race as Chambers exploded from the blocks and sped away from the field, however, Matherson of K.C. closed down on him like an avalanche but it was too late as Chambers got to the finish line in a new ‘Champs’ record 10.29 seconds. Matherson a fearless warrior ran a personal best of 10.37 seconds for silver. The only disappointment for the spectators was seeing Akeem Bloomfield pulling up injured and clutching one of his legs, which effectively ended his participation at the championship.
In one of the closest finishes ever, many fans depending on whom you spoke with share differing views over the outcome of this 100m final. Shauna Helps of Wolmer’s Girls prevailed over St. Jago High’s Nattaliah Whyte with both athletes accredited with the same time (11.80). The more replays and angles fans saw generated further discussions that the results were inconclusive. Maybe a dead heat for first place would have been the best compromise. Nevertheless, it was one of the most exciting finals of the meet and the efforts of both athletes deserve our admiration.
CLASS 3 100M
The girls 100m Class 3 final was unquestionably the biggest upset of the championships. Overwhelming favourite Kimone Shaw of St. Jago High who ran 11.55 seconds at the CARIFTA trials failed to ignite and finished a disappointing fourth in what is by her standards a pedestrian 11.93 seconds. She is the only athlete in her Class 3 age group to have run below 11.7 seconds. Track fans are hoping that she will be able to rediscover her best form at the CARIFTA games in Martinique.
There were no upsets in the boys Class 3 100m finals as the favourites delivered. Tyreke Wilson, a name for the future, showed exemplary sprinting technique in capturing the gold medal holding off his teammate Dejour Russell in a very competitive event. Wilson won in 10.91 seconds just outside of the record 10.85 seconds set last year. The only disappointment was the negative headwind conditions (-1.7) that might have affected the winning time.