By Noel "Bravo" Francis, Special to

Under-18 Boys 100m

Mario Burke from Barbados is one of my favourite Caribbean junior sprinters and I expect a lot from this young man in the future. His top-end speed is amazing which sets him apart. Last year he demolished the field on his way to victory in the boys’ Under-17 100m finals in 10.61 seconds. Burke was to face his biggest challenge from Jamaica’s Raheem Chambers; however, it did not materialize as Chambers who lined up in the blocks before the start of the race had to withdraw because of an injury. Both athletes come face to face once more in the new Under-18 category. Burke won the 100m in the Under-18 section at the Barbados CARIFTA trials in 10.50 seconds just a shade off his personal best of 10.49 seconds done in the 100m semi-finals at the 2013 IAAF World Youth Championships.

Raheem Chambers has been in sizzling form this season, first winning the Jamaica CARIFTA trials in a stunning personal best of 10.28 seconds and two weeks later set a new Class 2 100m ‘Champs’ record of 10.29 seconds. Chambers’ runner-up at the trials Akeem Bloomfield picked up an injury at ‘Champs’ and was replaced on the Jamaica team. However, there is now a toss-up between third place finisher at the trials Chad Walker who ran 10.42 and fourth place finisher Jhevaughn Matherson who ran a then personal best of 10.50. Fifteen year-old Matherson a prodigious talent has since lowered his personal best to 10.37 seconds at ‘Champs’ chasing Chambers’ in that record run.

Keanu Pennerman of Bahamas, last year’s silver medallist in the boys’ Under-17 100m, will be hoping to upset this quality field. However, he might not get that chance, as he was third at the Bahamas CARIFTA trials in (10.60) behind Javan Martin (10.56) and Tyler Bowe (10.58). Promising 14-year-old Trinidad & Tobago sprinter Adell Colthrust with a personal best of 10.95 seconds will gain a lot from the experience of facing the big boys and come back stronger next year. He won the Trinidad & Tobago trials in a wind-aided 10.78 seconds and has a bright future.

However, all things being equal, it is my view that Mario Burke and company will have a tough task in trying to hold off the Jamaicans. Nevertheless, this should be a very competitive race, therefore, do not be surprised if a very fast time flashes across the screen.

Under-20 Girls 100m

The girls’ Under-20 100m finals will be a hotly contested event. Last year Bahamas captured the first two spots and Jamaica claimed third in a photo finish. Both defending champion Devynne Charlton and runner-up Carmiesha Cox, now teammates at Purdue University in Indiana, are eligible to represent Bahamas this year. However, Charlton with a personal best of 11.60 seconds is the only one back to defend her 100m title, as Carmiesha Cox was not selected to the Bahamas team. Cox another favourite sprinter of mine with a personal best of 11.61 seconds in the 100m will be truly missed. The pint size Charlton along with the multi-talented Keianna Albury (11.77) who won at the Bahamas trials will be aiming to maintain their country’s dominance in this event.

One of Jamaica’s top female sprinters Jonielle Smith will be seeking to stamp her authority on this event after missing last year’s games. The powerfully built Smith has been in tremendous form this year. She won the CARIFTA trials in 11.44 seconds before running a personal best of 11.32 seconds for silver at ‘Champs’. Smith’s teammate Kedisha Dallas is a very experienced and fierce competitor and could be in the mix. Trinidad and Tobago sprinters Aaliyah Telesford and Kayelle Clarke will add intensity to this event. At the T&T CARIFTA trials Telesford and Clarke posted wind-aided times of 11.53 and 11.54 seconds respectively in the Under-20 100m finals. The wind reading was 2.8 metres per second. However, in the semi-finals Telesford sped to a legal and respectable 11.49 seconds. The final should be a classic as Charlton has a bullet start and good mid-race speed while Smith usually finishes like a runaway train. I expect Jonielle Smith based on her current form to prevail in a very close and exciting encounter.

Under-18 Girls 100m

The girls Under-18 100m finals should see Jamaica featuring prominently through talented sprinter Kimone Shaw who ran 11.55 seconds at the trials. Shaw’s high school teammates Shanice Reid (11.72) at trials and Natalliah Whyte (11.80) at ‘Champs’ are fine sprinters; either athlete if selected could join Shaw on the podium. Nelda Huggins of British Virgin Islands (BVI) the Under-17 100m silver medallist from last year is a clear and present danger; she has the ability to cause an upset. However, she might need to lower her personal best (11.77) to win.

Barbadian Tristan Evelyn should be a returning finalist and will compete well. She recently established a new record of 11.87 seconds at the Barbados Secondary Schools Athletics Championships in March. The Bahamas challenge should come from promising sprinter Brianne Bethel who won the Bahamas CARIFTA trials in 11.90 seconds. Will Huggins, Bethel or Evelyn prevent a Jamaican quinella?

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