By Noel ‘Bravo’ Francis, Special to

Jamaica currently enjoys the undisputed status as the sprint capital of the world. The country boasts the fastest male sprinter alive in Usain Bolt and back-to-back Olympic Games female 100m gold medallist and current IAAF World Indoor 60m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. Added to those two champions is Yohan Blake the second fastest man ever over both the 100m and 200m. These athletes competed at ‘Champs’ and left an indelible mark. We now feature some talented athletes who are following their example.

100-Metre Class 3

Look out for the outstanding and courageous Tyreke Wilson of Calabar High, who last year as a 12 year old ran 10.99 seconds in his semi-final and 11.01 seconds in the final chasing record holder Jhevaugn Matherson of Kingston College who has gone up in class. Wilson who has looked unbeatable this season should receive stiff competition from Jamaica College’s Chislon Gordon who has run 10.98 seconds so far this year and Yashawn Hamilton of Kingston College who won bronze last year.

The powerfully built Dejour Russell also of Calabar known for his top-end speed is also favoured to bulldoze his way amongst the medals. Will these youngsters challenge or erase the existing 1-year record 10.85 seconds? Anything is possible with the way these athletes are sprinting nowadays.

100-Metre Class 2

All track-loving fans are looking forward to this super clash. On January 4, 2014, at the Pure Water/J.C. Invitational Meet, a lanky sprinter from Kingston College Akeem Bloomfield announced himself in a splendid way to track fans in recording a time of 10.42 seconds on an uneven grass surface. At the time, many track fans wondered if the clock was malfunctioning, or if the wind gauge reading and time were accurate. Nevertheless, track-loving fans were ecstatic and welcomed the new wonder boy.

The peerless Jhevaughn Matherson also of K.C. in his first year in Class 2 will want to stamp his authority immediately on proceedings, but will not have things his own way. Raheem Chambers the former record holder in Class 3, from St. Jago High would like to make amends for the ‘little bwoy’ spanking he received from Calabar’s Michael O’hara last year in this event. He has run sparingly this season; however, he confirmed that he is in superb form when he beat Bloomfield and Matherson convincingly at the CARFITA trials. His winning time of 10.28 seconds if repeated should secure the gold medal.

Both Matherson and Bloomfield of K.C looked unbeatable up to that point after showing excellent form with identical times of 10.64 seconds at the Youngster Goldsmith meet at the National Stadium on February 1, 2014. They now realize that they have an uphill task to unseat Raheem Chambers.

When the ‘Fortis’ chants go up inside the Stadium on Friday night and the beating of drums begin, will the K.C pair be inspired and go 1-2 and claim maximum points or will Raheem Chambers spoil the party? Do not leave your seats for this one. Yohan Blake’s seemingly untouchable 10.34 seconds is the existing record.

100-Metre Class 1

Debate has been raging all over Jamaica for months about this particular race. The buildup makes us feel as if it is the unification of all titles in the heavyweight divisions of boxing whereby all arguments will be settled as to who is the undisputed champion.

CARIFTA Champion Zharnel Hughes the best sprinter from the island of Anguilla will need to demonstrate nerves of steel to cope with the ‘Champs’ atmosphere and pressure to bring home the points and title for the ‘famed purples’, Kingston College. However, first year class one entrant and Calabar superstar Michael O’Hara will challenge him stride for stride to the finish line. We hope and pray that track-loving fans travelling miles to see this 100-metre spectacle between (Hughes & O’Hara) are not disappointed in this face-off. Interestingly, for the past two years no Jamaican has won this event. Will the trend continue for a third year?

The fast starting duo of Jevaughn Minzie of Bog Walk High and Raheem Robinson of Wolmer’s Boys will make this final a cracker as they could lead up to 60 metres before being caught. I understand that St. Jago High is planning the perfect storm with former Class 3 record holder Kevaughn Rattray being fine-tuned to blow everyone away. If Rattray’s teammate Chad Walker is eligible having transferred from J.C, then fans inside the National Stadium will feel like they are standing on the edge of Niagara Falls at the start of this race.

So far, we have seen some wonderful times from the main protagonists. The impressive Zharnel Hughes produced a fast 10.36 seconds at the Milo Western Relays, whilst the ever present Jevaughn Minzie of Bog Walk and Calabar star Michael O’Hara also raised eyebrows clocking 10.31 and 10.29 seconds respectively on the same day at the Camperdown Classics. Michael O’Hara said afterwards that he is looking at much faster times as the season goes because now he is fit and ready. O’Hara might need to run faster to beat Hughes who has a personal best of 10.23 seconds done last year in Mexico. With arguably the fastest combined lineup ever seen in a ‘Champs’ final, the Class 1 record of 10.21 seconds held by Yohan Blake could be history. Who will wear the crown? What will be the winning time? There is a Jamaican saying ‘Pressure bust pipe’. Moreover, I fear anxiety might get the better of someone which might produce some drama in the blocks.   HUSH!

In my next feature, we will be looking at the 200-metre showdowns.


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