By Noel ‘Bravo’ Francis, Special to Trackalerts.com
Jamaica’s biggest relay carnival, the Gibson McCook Relays, will have its 40th staging at the National Stadium on February 27, 2016. This prestigious event promises to be action packed right throughout the entire day with over 4,000 athletes from primary, prep, junior high and high schools along with clubs & institutions competing in over 50 events. A bumper crowd is expected inside the facility and an even larger global audience tuning in.
Several development meets, including the Digicel Grand Prix series, along with the performances seen at Western, Central and the Corporate Area championships have passionate track & field fans excited and expectant. Let us now look at a few of the event finals that should have the fans riveted from Saturday afternoon onwards.
Preparatory and Primary
A Jamaican Olympian once said that success in a 4x100m sprint relay has less to do with sprint and more to do with relay, that is, proper baton passing inside the three exchange zones.
That statement was truly evident last year in the Prep and Primary school sprint relays. The baton exchanges were so flawless at times that it was not farfetched in agreeing that the youngsters were practising in their sleep. This year fans should be in for another treat from the exuberant sprinters. Remember a little child shall lead them.
The Boys Class 1 4x100m
The fact that there are no overwhelming favourites for this event makes it a must-see. An experienced Jamaica College quartet had a comprehensive and confidence boosting victory over Calabar at the Camperdown Classic in a smart 40.06 seconds. To be fair, Calabar did not field their strongest team as regular anchor man Seanie Selvin was rested.
Many persons are awaiting this classic rematch. Kingston College with a fit Jhevaughn Matherson, Dontre Williams, Nathaniel Bann and Akeem Bloomfield in their ranks can match and beat any team on their day. Everyone wants to see this dream team soon. Cornwall College (41.02) who won at the Milo Western Relays defeating a Kingston College ‘B’ team should be competitive and add punch to this event. Two other dark horse teams to watch are STETHS (40.93) and Garvey Maceo (41.00). A sub-40 clocking should be on the cards.
The Boys Class 2 4x100m
Without a doubt this event featuring the powerful Calabar Class 2 sprinters is one of the most anticipated. It could be a history making moment. If and whenever the Calabar team of Michael Stephens, Christopher Taylor, Tyreke Wilson and Dejour Russell get their baton exchanges spot on there can be no doubt that this unit is at least two or perhaps three seconds faster than their counterparts.
Remembering what occurred at ‘Champs’ last year, nervous eyes, trembling lips and nail biting track fans will be glued on the Calabar baton exchanges and the clock this time around. The record is 40.65 seconds.
Girls’ Class 1 4x100m
Holmwood Technical has been in tremendous form all season consistently running below 45 seconds. The Holmwood girls have been showing Edwin Allen and the rest of the competition a clean pair of heels in the Grand Prix series and at Central Champs.
However, many feel their acid test will come against a full strength St. Jago team including Nelda Huggins, Natalliah Whyte and Shanice Reid. It was revealed recently in a ‘Champs’ countdown on TV by her coach that Whyte is not 100% and track fans are hoping she regains her fitness at this crucial stage of the season.
Editor's Note: Noel ‘Bravo’ Francis is a very exciting and creative freelance sports writer specializing in the fields of athletics and cricket. His colourful down to earth yet professional personality makes him a favourite amongst athletes and fans. Readers are often exposed to his detailed knowledge and passion which usually increase their interest in the athletes, events and the sport overall. He has a first degree in Banking & Finance and works in the financial industry. Contact Noel at [email protected]