By Noel ‘Bravo’ Francis, Special to

As we continue our countdown to ‘Champs’ 2014, we remain with the girls and focus on a few of the events that brought overall pride and joy to Jamaica at the World Youth Championships in Donetsk, Ukraine. In this edition, the spotlight will be on the hurdles events which we anticipate will produce some scintillating displays on the track.

80-Meter Hurdles Class 3

The hurdles events at last year’s Boys & Girls Championships were among the most exciting and dramatic features. It included six records, four on the boys’ side and two among the girls. One of the standout races was the girls Class 4 70-meter hurdles final, which although it was not a record run produced a very close finish with the first four competitors dipping under 11 seconds.

All the finalists have moved up in Class and with the distance now at 80-meters track fans can expect a little extra in what should be another fantastic final. Two of the leading contenders this season are Shanette Allison of Holmwood Technical and Sidney Marshall of Manchester High School. These two should be engaged in a keen tussle. Allison is the Central Champs winner while Marshall is oozing with confidence after recently winning the Under-18 100-meter hurdles final at the CARIFTA trials.

100-Meter Hurdles Class 2

Davina Young of Wolmer’s Girls who won the silver medal in that unforgettable final last year involving two false starts will be seeking to win the gold medal this year. However, she will have to contend with St. Andrew High for Girl’s rising star Rushelle Burton who is also the reigning CARIFTA Under-17 champion at 100m hurdles. Despite it being Rushelle Burton’s first year in Class 2, her consistent performances to date makes her one of the favourites in this event.

Another first year entrant in Wolmerian Janeek Brown who won the silver medal at the CARIFTA Games behind Burton will be hoping for better luck at ‘Champs’ this year. Last year she suffered the indignity of a false start in the final of the Class 3 80-meter hurdles event. Vere Technical’s Adrenette Knight who won bronze in this event last year will be aiming for a medal with a different colour this year. Jeanine Williams of Immaculate Conception High has been consistent all season and should make the final.

The winner should come from one of these athletes, as anything else would be a big upset. If the fast finishing Rushelle Burton is fit, she should win, as I believe she will have to fall or crash into a hurdle to lose this race. My only concern for Burton is that she went down injured at the CARIFTA trials and her participation at ‘Champs’ could be in doubt.

100-Meter hurdles Class 1

Last year a potentially fantastic class two final, that fizzled in the blocks with two horrible false starts. Yanique Thompson of Holmwood Technical then ran impressively and unchallenged winning the title in 13.44 seconds into a negative (-1.7) headwind. Thereafter she improved rapidly and her career then took off internationally with victory at the World Youth Championships in Donetsk, Ukraine. Despite her new international status, she will need to prove to some persons that she is the best and that her win last year after her two main rivals jumped the gun was no coincidence. I hope fate will bring these young women together again for ‘Champs’ this year.

It would be a great opportunity for Yanique Thompson to settle the score and remove the doubts surrounding her pedigree when she lines up against her two unfortunate but very talented rivals in Peta-Gaye Williams formerly of Camperdown and Tishana Montieth of St. Jago High. If there are no mishaps, this could be one of the races of the championships because there could still be an air of bitterness and revenge lurking. Incidentally, Peta-Gaye Williams who set the class 2 record (13.38 seconds) in her semifinal is now representing St. Jago High School.

Let us hope this year that lightning does not strike the same place twice, which will allow track fans to witness a fierce duel. My only concern has been the fact that all three athletes have not been racing on a regular basis in this particular event this season and are probably preparing for ‘Champs’ like a covert mission or nursing injuries. Peta-Gaye Williams and Yanique Thompson met recently at the CARIFTA trials with Thompson coming out on top in a very close encounter. Let us see if they will swap positions at ‘Champs’. We have waited long enough for this rematch.

400-Meter hurdles OPEN

Jamaica has had recent success in this event internationally at the junior and senior levels. It is one of the reasons that I am a bit disappointed with the slow times produced by the athletes so far this season. I hope by the time, ‘Champs’ come along we will see at least five athletes going below the 1 minute mark. If the runners fail to produce better times, the race could resemble a steeplechase event. Andrenette Knight of Vere Technical lifted our spirits when she ran 58.59 seconds to win this event at the CARIFTA trials. Other top contenders for this contest based on the qualifying meets are Britaney Duncan of Hydel High and Ashley Williams of Holmwood Technical. Defending champion Camira Haughton of Edwin Allen is still around and we hope to see the talented pair of Genekee Leith and Peta-Gaye Williams of St.Jago in this final. I would be satisfied with a winning time of 57 seconds.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here