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Green and black team oozes confidence in retaining Boys' Champs title

Published:Monday | March 23, 2015 | 11:07 PMShayne Fairman
Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer Calabar's Tyreke Wilson in full stride during the Class Two boys' 100m at the Digicel Grand Prix powered Camperdown Classic at the National Stadium.

Kingston College (KC), the winningest school of the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Athletics Championships - with 31 titles - have tried halting Calabar High's reign over the past three years, but to no avail.

According to seasoned tactician Michael Clarke, Calabar's success has been built on sound "planning, hard work and executing well when it matters most".

But KC Sportsmaster, Noel Channer, may not be able to say the same, given their arch-rivals' recent dominance.

They saw last year as the year for the purple and whites to win, and this year is no different.

"Last year, we knew we had weaknesses, but we never just went to Champs to participate, we went to win," Channer recalled.

"Every year, it's KC or Calabar. Calabar's style is to qualify their athletes and hide them away for Champs. They are creepers," Channer reasoned, adding that "we (KC) use all our athletes in all meets".

In the meantime, Clarke's answer to the 'noise' made by rivalling camps could be considered modest, yet silencing. He has been on the job at Calabar for 13 seasons and knows how to let his work do the talking.

He has, after all, won Champs five of those years at the Red Hills Road-based school.

"We (Calabar) are always quiet for a reason; not making any noise, but ready to retain and win Boys' Champs 2015," he said of his alma mater in a recent interview with The Gleaner.

The green-and-black outfit has won 24 Champs titles so far and could go to 25 overall when the curtains come down on Saturday, March 28, inside the National Stadium.

Clarke also pointed to "recruiting of some good athletes", which could be a factor in their victorious cause. Warren Barrett Jnr, formerly of Cornwall College, just might top the names of young stars brought in this season.

Clarke noted, however, that Calabar have athletes who are tried and proven performers.

"We, Calabar, will be coming strong. We have no secret weapons; all our major players (athletes) are well known and working hard.

"I don't believe in the secret weapon thing, but I am confident we will be victorious," he assured.

Some 'major players' from Calabar's deck will be team captain Michael O'Hara, the Class Two 110m hurdles record holder, who suffered through injury last year.

Captain O'Hara noted that Calabar knows the job at hand.

"The trophy is there at Champs; it's just for us to put in the work and collect it.

It's gonna be very interesting. I am sure my team is training very hard, and we will be going for nothing less than gold and try not to get complacent," he told The Gleaner.

"It will be a very good championships this year," underlined O'Hara.

Tyreke Wilson, the 200-metre record holder from last year, is another weapon in Calabar's arsenal.

"I am very excited and very confident going into Champs. I have done very impressive times at Carifta, and (I'm) hoping to continue," he assured.

"I am working towards my best, and my best will be good enough to help us (Calabar) retain the title," Wilson told The Gleaner at the Carifta Games trials recently.

There is also last year's

400-metre gold medallist, Christopher Taylor, who sped to an unbelievable 45.69 seconds Under-15 world record at the Carifta trials.

Taylor opined that after winning gold at Champs in 46.80 last year, he will be going for glory again.

"I knew the season after Champs that I could go faster. I just work hard, train hard; and I am looking to win at Champs again," he reasoned.

Another star Calabar newcomer is Barrett, who broke the Class Two world record last year. His pedigree in the discus and shot put events, respectively, are equally as impressive, as his wins in the different classes over the years for Cornwall College proved.

This might be the year that Barrett finally gets to be part of a winning Boys' Champs team.