High speed hurdles clash
Jaheel Hyde or Michael O'Hara? O'Hara of Calabar High or Hyde of Wolmers' Boys'? Who will win the Class One 110-metre hurdles?
That is one of the most asked questions from fans anticipating this hurdle summit meeting at Boys' and Girls' Championships. There's a simple reason. They are both wonderful prospects for the future.
Hyde, the defending champion, clicked to a season-opening time of 13.22 seconds at the Carifta Trials. That's 0.02 better than Omar McLeod's Champs record. O'Hara has run 13.57 in the best of his trips over the sticks this season.
Historically, the Calabar captain has the edge, with wins over Hyde in Classes Two and Three.
Slowed by mid-season injury last year, he missed the final by 0.06 seconds in 2014.
Now, he's hail and hearty, as can be seen by his nippy sprinting at 100 metres, where he has run 10.23 seconds and in the 4x100, where he contributed mightily to a Jamaican high-school record of 39.32 seconds at the Gibson McCook Relays.
O'Hara's 2013 Class Two win over Hyde ended with a record time of 13.45 seconds.
Though he only started training on January 1, Hyde is pretty fit, too. He also ran the 400-metre hurdles, in which he is the World Junior champion, in 49.76 seconds at the Trials and is on an upswing.
Pundits aren't giving anyone else a chance, even though 2014 bronze-medal winner, Marvin Williams of STETHS, O'Hara's in-form teammate Sean Selvin, Jovaine Atkinson of Kingston College, and the St Jago pair of Jordan Chin and Roje Jackson Chin, all return from last year's final.
Both Hyde and O'Hara have good credentials. Hyde is the World Youth and Youth Olympic champion. To win that last title in 2014, the former footballer set a World Youth best of 12.96 seconds. That was over hurdles set at the Class Two height of 36 inches. O'Hara, the Class Two record holder, has such long legs that the Class One height of 39 inches shouldn't hurt at all.
Sharing the high-hurdling billing is the girls' Class Two 100m hurdles race between Janeek Brown of Wolmer's and Safiya Thompson of St Jago.
Like Hyde, Brown is the reigning champion, but Thompson and Nicolee Foster of Holmwood Technical return with a view to moving up from silver and bronze last year. Brown is a former Class Two winner as well.
At the Trials, Brown nipped Thompson, 13.43 to 13.45, with Foster third in 13.63 seconds. The Class Two record is 13.38 by Peta-Gaye Williams, then of Camperdown High and now Thompson's teammate at St Jago.
The X-factor is Rochelle Burton of St Andrew High. She was a World Youth finalist in 2013, but is slowly coming back from injury.
There's one factor all these contenders will have to face and that's the traditional Champs Saturday breeze. If it subsides, then the records in these two events could fall.
n Hubert Lawrence has been attending Champs since 1980.