By Noel "Bravo" Francis, Speical to 

In this feature, we focus our attention on some hurdles events that has brought glory to the Caribbean at the IAAF youth, junior and senior level competitions.  

Under-20 Boys 110m Hurdles

Last year’s 110m hurdles champion Wilhem Belocian of Guadeloupe is still eligible to compete at the CARIFTA games this year. Belocian has the unique distinction of representing two countries in junior hurdles competitions in the same year. He competes for Guadeloupe at the CARIFTA games and France in IAAF World and Youth competitions.

Belocian has been switching back and forth between both countries since 2011. He currently holds the world indoor junior record (7.48 seconds) at 60m hurdles and is the joint third fastest junior ever at 110m hurdles (99 cm) with 13.18 seconds. He has been unbeaten at the CARIFTA games since 2010. If he decides to compete in his final year at CARIFTA and conditions are perfect we could kiss the record of 13.41 seconds held by T&T’s Jehue Gordon goodbye.

Jamaica’s Tyler Mason who placed fourth last year (13.69) will be aiming to collect a medal this year. Mason ran 13.46 seconds to capture the Under-20 title at the Jamaica trials and followed up with a 13.55 seconds clocking for a close second at ‘Champs’ in the Class 1 finals.

Trinidad & Tobago’s Ruebin Walters who won bronze last year (13.66) should be involved in another keen tussle with Tyler Mason this time for the runner-up spot if Belocian appears at the games. Ruebin Walters easily won the T&T trials in 13.90 and recently clocked 13.66 seconds for victory at the Falcon Games. Despite not being strong medal candidates, the other athletes who should make the finals are Marvin Williams (Jam), Asa Guevara (T&T) and Xavier Coakley (Bah).

Under-18 Boys 110m Hurdles

Jamaica’s Jaheel Hyde, the IAAF World Youth Champion at 110m hurdles (91.4 cm) with all due respect to his competitors is in a different class. He is the second fastest world youth hurdler of all time (13.13) and should establish a new Under-18 record for this event at CARIFTA all things being equal. He has been in scintillating form this season, winning the CARIFTA trials in 13.19 seconds (91.4 cm) and then registering a big win at ‘Champs’ in his first year in the 110m high hurdles in Class 1 defeating another top hurdler in Tyler Mason. His ‘Champs’ winning time of 13.53 seconds into a negative (-3.5) headwind if repeated at the games should easily land him the gold medal in the Under-18 section.

My only concern is that there will not be a recurrence of last year’s fiasco where Hyde was denied official recognition because the Under-17 110m hurdles final was ruled as an exhibition event. His teammate Roje Jackson-Chin and last year’s runner-up in that exhibition race should also be in the mix for a podium spot this year.

Both Bajan hurdlers Michael Nicholls and Juwan Augustin-Mayers who came third and fourth respectively in the so-called 4-man exhibition event have returned. Nicholls ran 13.84 seconds at the trials. The T&T hurdlers failed to meet the qualifying standard at their trials and did not gain selection. The Bahamian pair of Tavonte Mott and Aaron Ross saves the day and we can all breathe a sigh of relief, as this event will now get official recognition this year. It would be very unfortunate if Jaheel Hyde does something special this year and because of the exhibition clause, he is denied his glory. 

Under-20 Girls 400m Hurdles

Despite getting bronze in the CARIFTA finals last year, Barbadian Tia-Adana Belle went on to capture the silver medal at the World Youth Championships in Donetsk, Ukraine in a personal best of 58.42 seconds. Belle, who did not compete at the Barbados trials, has made the trek down from college to represent her country. Belle who attends St. Augustine’s University registered a season best of 59.38 on April 4, 2014 at the Florida Relays in Gainsville, U.S.A. She should start as one of the favourites for this event.

Defending champion Kimone Green from Jamaica now attending Mico University was second at the CARIFTA trials in 59.11 seconds. Since the trials, Green has been doing her best to remain race sharp. At the Inter-Collegiate Track & Field Meet in early April she ran 58.96 for bronze.

Andrenette Knight, who defeated Green at the trials ran impressively winning in 58.59 seconds but has not looked the same since. Knight was almost a second slower at ‘Champs’ (59.52) where she collected bronze. She is a quality athlete whom I believe can run below 59 seconds again. I expect a fantastic race from these three.

Under-18 Boys 400m Hurdles

Jaheel Hyde ran impressively at the Jamaica CARIFTA trials to win this event in 51.06 seconds (84 cm height). However, it was his heart-stopping record run performance at ‘Champs’ that left many track fans speechless. Hyde established a new ‘Champs’ and national junior record of 49.49 seconds, the fastest time by a junior in the world this year.

He remains on course to establish a new record in this category at CARIFTA. Jamaica’s other entrant Duran Crooks who ran 53.21 for second at the CARIFTA trials could play a crucial role in what could be a super race.

Last year’s Under-17 400m hurdles champion Rivaldo Leacock of Barbados is a very good athlete who should provide the necessary challenge for Hyde. Leacock ran 53.11 seconds last year to claim the title; however, his lack of quality competition at home must be affecting his preparations and progression this year.

A case in point was the slow motion winning time (59.63) in this event from the trials. Leacock was not a participant in that race at the trials. Nevertheless, he smashed the boys Under-17 400m hurdles (76 cm) record at the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Athletics Championships with a time of 51.38 seconds. Leacock’s personal best over the 400m hurdles (84 cm) is 52.94 seconds. It should be a fantastic duel between Hyde and Leacock.

Under-20 Girls 100m hurdles

This is without doubt one of the super races of the championships. It brings together two outstanding collegians against two Jamaican high school standouts. The multi-talented Akela Jones of Barbados who won the silver medal last year and Bahamian Devynne Charlton who won bronze return from America boosting their countries chances of winning gold in this event.

Jones competing for Oklahoma Baptist ran a wind-aided 13.45 (+2.2) on April 5, 2014 at the Texas Tech Open in Lubbock, U.S.A. Devynne Charlton who has a personal best of 13.83 seconds, ran 13.89 at Texas State Invitational to claim bronze on April 5, 2014.

Jamaica possesses two of the finest female junior hurdlers in the world. World Youth Champion Yanique Thompson and Peta-Gay Williams are two of the fiercest rivals in hurdles history whether competing for school or country.

At the CARIFTA trials, Thompson (13.55) defeated Williams (13.60) in a very exciting encounter. Two weeks later a determined Williams running with a fractured right arm turned the tables on Thompson at ‘Champs’. Racing into a strong headwind (-2.5) Williams prevailed in 13.81 seconds over Thompson 13.95 seconds. If fitness concerns are not an issue for these four quality athletes, based on their competitive nature a fabulous final is in store. Will the collegians prevails over the Jamaicans?


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