Sat | Dec 10, 2016

Vere seek return to glory days

Published:Tuesday | March 24, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Vere Technical’s Sasha-Gaye Whyte (left) and Britnie Dixon lead a group of athletes in training on their school grounds at Hayes in Clarendon.

Vere Technical High hopes to get back to the glory days at Girls' Championship. Back in the day, Vere won the title 22 times, including 15 consecutive holds. Nowadays, the school is struggling to get back to the pinnacle.

John Mair, who is in charge of the athletic programme, aims to finish in the top three at this year's Grace Kennedy/Inter-Secondary Schools' Sports Association (ISSA) Boys and Girls' Athletics Championships, which begins today and runs through to Saturday at the National Stadium.

After a fifth-place finish last year, Mair is eyeing a top-three finish.

"We are working very hard to move up in the top three, hopefully," Mair told The Gleaner during a training session at the school grounds last week.

long-term plans

However, in the long-term, Mair is planning to put the Hayes, Clarendon, school back on top like in the days of Olympians Merlene Ottey and Veronica Campbell-Brown.

"I have been at Vere for three years, and the plan is certainly to take Vere back to the top at Girls' Champs," the former Jamaica College and national representative said. "As long as the financial support comes in, we should be back."

He added: "The support can be better. A programme for Champs needs money for medical, nutrition, among other things," Mair pointed out.

Looking at Champs 2015, Mair said that his squad is not big enough to challenge for the title.

"In terms of numbers, Vere is not there yet to vie for the title, but we have a high percentage in quality. It's not an overnight thing; it takes time to build," he insisted.

Although not among the favourites, Mair says anything can happen during Champs.

"Things can happen on the day, so there is hope for us. It is what happens during the five days at Champs," he said.

Mair says his responsibility is not only to guide his charges in athletics, but also in academics.

"When I came here (Vere Technical), I told the athletes that they are student/athletes. In terms of discipline, we are getting there," he said.

He also said Byron Stewart, chairman of the school board; principal, Dr Henrietta Stewart, and past students Dalton Bailey and Oscar Blair give good support to the programme.

expects good

performances

Mair is expecting good performances from team captain Kayona Bradshaw in the Class One discus and shot put; RenÈe Medley, Class One 100m and 200m; Shanice Clarke, Class One 400m hurdles; Derri-Ann Hill, Class One 400m; Sasha-Gay Whyte, Class One 800m and 1500m; Britney Dixon, Class Two 800m and 1500m; Shanique Walker, Class Three 400m and 800m; and Britney Anderson, Class Three long and high jump.

Mair's assistant coaches are Tamara Williams (shot put and discus; Stacy Bell (middle distance); Dwight Cunningham (jumps); Chris McDonald (400m); and Raymond 'KC' Graham (hurdles).

- Marc Stamp