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Hyde, O’Hara barred from school competition at Penns

Published:Tuesday | April 14, 2015 | 12:00 AMRaymond Graham
Jaheel Hyde (left) of Wolmer’s Boys and Calabar High’s Michael O’Hara competing in the Class One 110m hurdles final at the recent ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Championships. O’Hara won and Hyde placed second.

Top male high-school athletes, Michael O'Hara of Calabar High and Jaheel Hyde of Wolmer's Boys', have been barred from representing their institutions at the 2015 Penn Relays, which takes place next week in Philadelphia, United States.

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA), which governs the popular annual relay carnival in Pennsylvania, noted its ban on the basis that both athletes have been recipients of benefits - owing to their athletic potential and performance - which are not available to all students at their high schools.

Yesterday, the local governing body for high-school sports, the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA), made public the PIAA's position through a press release.

"The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, the state high-school governing body which sanctions the Penn Relays high-school events, has ruled that Michael O'Hara of Calabar High and Jaheel Hyde of Wolmer's Boys' School are ineligible to participate at the Penn Relays as high-school athletes," the release said.

Additional benefits

"In a communiquÈ to ISSA, the PIAA said both athletes are deemed to have received benefits related to their athletic skills and performances, which are not available to all students at their high schools.

"On that basis, both athletes cannot represent their respective schools at the 2015 Penn Relays," the release concluded.

Hyde signed with LIME, while O'Hara has a deal with rivalling telecommunications company Digicel.

Hyde, who holds the World Youth, Youth Olympics and World Junior Championship for hurdles gold medals for 100 and 400 metres, had earlier this year been unveiled as a LIME ambassador.

O'Hara's unveiling as a Digicel ambassador came at the ISSA-run Boys and Girls' Championships, where he removed his Calabar High jersey after his 200 metres triumph - his third individual gold at the event - to expose the words 'Be Extraordinary', a slogan used by Digicel. The act also played out as an ambush-marketing strategy, as LIME is a sponsor of the event.

The ban is a big blow for both institutions. Hyde was a big favourite to retain his title in the Championships of America 400 metres hurdles. He won the event last year after clocking 51.13 seconds, and has a season-best 49.01 seconds, the National Junior record.

O'Hara, who is also the Champs 100m and 110m hurdles champion, is a key member of Calabar's record-breaking 4x100m (39.08 seconds) and 4x400m (3:06.76) teams.