‘We had to give our anchor a good lead’, says UTech's Forte of 4x100m win over Bolt's racers at Gibson McCook Relays
Champions were named and records were broken, but track and field was the real winner at Saturday's Gibson McCook Relays at the National Stadium.
Spectators witnessed the semi-triumphant return of triple Olympics and World Championships gold medallist, Usain Bolt, to the track which made him famous; semi-triumphant because his Racers Lions team was beaten in the club's and institutions 4x100m in a battle to the finish by their arch-rivals, University of Technology (UTech), on the feet of a brilliant backstretch by Julian Forte.
The UTech team of Forte, Andrew Fisher, Kemarley Brown and Tyquendo Tracey claimed the $150,000 Teddy McCook Trophy, for the most outstanding achievement of the meet.
Bolt's teammates included World Championships 4x100m gold medallists Warren Weir and Kemar Bailey-Cole, as well as Mario Forsythe.
Forte told The Gleaner that he didn't feel the need to be singled out as it was a total team effort.
"When I got the baton on the second leg I was already in first position and I did what I could to extend that. The team knew we had to give our anchor a good lead and I did the best I could to do that."
He added that running against intimidating opposition such as Weir and Bolt was not scary.
"Those are guys that I ran with before at World Relays and Commonwealth and I'm driven by good competition and I would say it was a factor in my performance," Forte said.
Six records were broken in total, though there were not many surprises. The teams expected to deliver did just that.
The Calabar quartet of Edward Clarke, Michael O'Hara, Julian Walker and Seanie Selvie walked away with $75,000, given by new sponsor Digicel for the best performance of the meet among high school male teams, after winning the boys' Class One 4x100m in 39.32, lowering the 39.61 set only a year ago.
The time is a global high school record and team coach, Michael Clarke, said the win and impressive time put him in a better mood for Boys and Girls' Championships, which begins on March 25.
"If you put it in perspective, it would also stand out as a really good time in North America or anywhere in the world at the senior level. It is encouraging," Clarke said.
UTech females erased MVP's 43.28 seconds set in 2007 to clock a winning mark of 43.13 in the women's clubs and institutions 4x100m.
They scored a second record in the 4x400m, wiping out Racers' 3:29.87 set last year, with a time of 3:29.28.
Edwin Allen won the Class Two 4x100m, with a brilliant third leg from Shellece Clarke, clocking 45.01 to equal the mark set by Vere in 2001.
The Kingston College (KC) quartet of Miguel Morrison, Chad Miller, Delano Rochester and Twayne Crooks erased a 21-year-old record in the 4x800m, set by St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) in 1994. The team posted 7:33.87, destroying the old mark of 7:34.96.
Racers, led by Edino Steele, had a record run in the men's 4x400m, stopping the clock at 3:03.18 to lower the 3:03.74 they clocked in 2013.
Shanieke Thomas and Nicholas Gordon had individual records. Gordon won the men's long jump with a leap of 7.95 metres, while Thomas took the women's event with 6.63 metres.
There was an upset finish for KC in the Class Two boys' 4x100m as star quarter-miler, Nathaniel Bann, pulled up, pushing too hard at the finish line and is now an uncertainty for Champs, which begins in three weeks.
The Gleaner understands that sprinter, Jhevaughn Matherson, also suffered an injury on the third leg of the boys' Class Two 4x200m race.