By Noel ‘Bravo’ Francis, Special to

Greetings to all, I hereby provide a preview of some of the exciting events one can expect from our girls at the 104th staging of the ISSA/Grace Kennedy Boys & Girls Championships scheduled from March 25-29th, 2014 at the National Stadium.

Last year produced a major upset as eventual winners Holmwood Technical overtook runaway leaders and favourite Edwin Allen late in the night for a surprising victory. Based on the final standings last year and the lessons learnt that underestimating your opponents could be to your peril, no one should declare any school an overwhelming favourite this year. Competitors must rise to the occasion on the day and leave it all on the track (blood, sweat and tears). They must strive to be the best, ensuring their sacrifices and efforts reap substantial rewards. In the final analysis, it usually comes down to HEART, motivation and managing your resources properly.

As the countdown continues towards that highly anticipated week in March, we now examine several events that will make the meet memorable and by extension another record-breaking extravaganza. In the real world, predictions can give rise to hope, despair and sometimes ridicule, as is the case with some doomsday prophets. However, in some sports like our beloved track and field, predictions come with more optimism than skepticism. While I cannot comment on or highlight every single event as in a book publication, there was a deliberate attempt to focus generally on the key events that will have a significant impact on this year’s championships.

The 2014 edition of the Boys & Girls Championships is shaping up to be an athletics exhibition of the highest standard at the junior level and it augurs well for track fans viewing the following events and rivalries:

100-Meter Class 4

‘Champs’ has a way of unearthing talented sprinters and giving them the necessary exposure to a very large audience locally and overseas. Last year we witnessed a then 13-year-old Kimone Shaw executing the perfect race, setting a new 100-meter record (11.75).

This year another gifted athlete Kiara Grant from The Convent of Mercy Academy (Alpha) has excited us with an equally stunning time 11.98 seconds running into a negative head wind (-1.8) at the Corporate Area Athletics Games on March 1, 2014. The adjusted time would be in the region of 11.82 seconds. That performance was by no means an isolated one as she has been making rapid progress throughout the season. She posted 12.24 seconds on January 4, 2014 at the Pure Water/J.C Track & Field Meet and 12 seconds flat at the Youngster Goldsmith Meet on February 1, 2014.

The petite sprinter recently cemented her status as the real deal after placing third in the girls’ Under-18 100m final at the CARIFTA trials in 11.84 seconds. She should win the gold medal easily at ‘Champs’, however, her winning time will be the focus and discussion of track fans.

100-Meter Class 3

The extremely talented Kimone Shaw of St.Jago is a future star barring injuries or any other unforeseen setbacks. She will create a constant buzz every time she graces the track; her ability to glide past opponents seemingly without much effort reminds me of another champion female athlete of the 90’s in Nicole Mitchell. This race will feature another quality athlete in the improved and fearless Shaneil English from the Hydel Group of Schools, who played a secondary role to Kimone Shaw in two stunning record-breaking Class Four races last year.

Another Hydel athlete, Yanique Dayle, could also feature prominently along with Manchester High’s Sidney Marshall. The powerfully built defending champion Shellece Clark of Edwin Allen cannot be discounted and will be aiming to hold on to her title. However, I believe she along with all the other finalists in this race will be seeing a clean pair of Kimone Shaw’s spikes if she replicates last year’s exceptional running. Recently, Shaw destroyed a strong Under-18 100-meter field at the CARIFTA trials winning in a personal best 11.55 seconds. Female sprinting in Jamaica needs some new faces for the future; let us hope we have found one in Kimone Shaw. She won three individual gold medals last year in Class IV breaking two records (100m, 200m) and equalling another in the long jump. Do not blink during this race.

100-Meter Class 2

Wolmerian Shauna Helps who lost her first ever 100m race at ‘Champs’ last year is back looking fit and rearing to go. Two years ago (2012), Helps set a new Class Three 100m record of 11.50 seconds on her way to the sprint double. She is peaking at the right moment and will engage in an unforgettable battle royal with the talented Rushelle Burton of St. Andrew High School for Girls, the tall and powerful Shanice Reid of St.Jago High and her teammate Natalliah Whyte last year’s CARIFTA Under-17 100m champion. I am predicting Shauna Helps to return to winning ways in a very tough race.

100-Meter Class 1
In my view, this is one of the biggest races of the Boys & Girls championships. Another Wolmerian in their confident team captain Jonielle Smith will try to land this coveted title in her first year in this Class. Smith captured the sprint double in Class Two last year and would like to continue on that winning path as a senior. She sent a very strong warning to her rivals that she will be hard to beat with an impressive 11.44 seconds to win the Under-20 100-meter CARIFTA Trials.

However, defending champion Monique Spencer of Edwin Allen will have none of this and could prove a stubborn rival like a ‘mother hen’ protecting her chicks. She will need to run faster than her personal best 11.46 seconds to defeat the Wolmerian. Spencer’s teammate Christania Williams, who has struggled with injuries for the past two years, seems to be back to full fitness, which is welcoming news. I genuinely believe she is the only sprinter in this Class capable of consistently running 11.3 seconds. She already has a personal best of 11.39 seconds done in 2011 and will be hoping to rediscover that form in her final year at ‘Champs’.

Based on Williams’ demonstration of her blinding speed on the 4x100m lead off leg at the Gibson Relays, she could challenge for the gold medal and claim valuable points for her school. This race should also see Holmwood Technical selecting any two from the smooth running trio of Chanice Bonner, Yanique Thompson or Dianna Johnson who are all capable of creating an upset. I hope to see a challenge coming from Rene Medley of former sprint queens Vere Technical to add flavour to this highly anticipated race. This is truly the clash of the Titans.


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