Mon | Jan 16, 2017

UTech’s gem of a Classic

Published:Tuesday | April 21, 2015 | 12:00 AMLaurie Foster
Megan Simmonds of the University of Technology winning the women's 100 metres hurdles in a record 13.08 seconds at the 2015 UTech Classic at the National Stadium.

Foster's Fairplay is impressed by what is now the enhanced image of tertiary track and field.

There was a time was when supporters of the sport, with a global image commanding the attention of the world's most powerful man, were exposed almost solely to high-school competition.

It took the vision and thankless efforts by persons like 1980 Moscow Olympian and University of Technology administrator, Anthony Davis, to evolve to the grand spectacle that is the UTech Classic, witnessed at the National Stadium two Saturdays ago.

That Davis, reading out of the University of Glasgow, Scotland, is a bell lap away from a doctorate, is testimony to his ardent and assiduous input to perfect what was a dying cause - the promotion of the sport at the post-secondary level.

UTech Classic 2015 has been transformed into a gem of a one-day event.

As a journalist, the expectations were high. There was little disappointment to soil the tapestry of what was on offer.

The cream of the crop was virtually unknown, but threatening all season to change that temporary status. Elaine Thompson out of UTech, just shy of her 23rd birthday, whispered her presence (11.10 personal best) at the Intercollegiate Championships a little more than a week prior.

At the Classic, she shouted to the custodians of the women 100m top rankings: "I am here, remember me when you go to the blocks at the June Beijing Trials."

Her 10.92 world lead, distancing from quality opponents of higher repute in Natasha Morrison (11.17), Christania Williams (11.18) and Schillonie Calvert (11.24), was a revelation. It emphasised the jockeying envisaged for the coveted positions to go to the blocks in the flat race, come the August World Champs in Beijing. The June 25-28 Trials will settle an issue which Saturday, April 11, could not.

Bias declared, as always there is a tendency to favour an athlete who is accompanied by a dignified and decent approach to sporting endeavour.

Sport is cluttered with prima donnas, and those who think that a good performance should bring out a pompous 'you can't talk to me without an appointment' or a 'talk to ma agent' response to a simple request for a short interview.

That the former St Andrew High School sprint hurdler, Megan Simmonds, now representing the ace-coach Stephen Francis-prepared UTech team, has displayed the direct opposite to all this, makes her a big hit with this columnist. She is the quintessential ambassador for a sport that sells itself.

Her unmolested 100metres hurdles clocking of 13.08 (W: 0.0mps) was close enough to her first sub-13 - 12.91 (W:+2.0mps) at Intercol - to fuel speculation of a top-three finish in June. She wants and is working towards a lot more.

"I will definitely continue to work hard this year to get where I wanna be, which is that World Champs final."

Shericka Jackson, the former Vere Technical quarter-mile standout, came to the Classic party with a 51.39 world lead. The world is ready for her character and class, and one is sure she, too, has visions of standing on the podium in years to come.

The year 2015 has seen some rich talent on display in the male 400m. Talk is aplenty about eye-balling the mighty USA at the majors. The UTech Classic provided another 'show me your talent' stage.

Javon 'Donkey Man' Francis and the well-mannered Javere Bell rolled out 45.50 and 45.68 season bests, respectively, to further moisten the palate. Even if other senior stalwarts, still to show their wares, are omitted, place alongside earlier performances at Champs and other 2015 events of Kingston College's Akeem Bloomfield (44.93) and Twayne Crooks (45.93) and St Jago High's Nathon Allen (45.30) and the prospects are mouth-watering.

The 200m season-best, legal wind performances - Usain Bolt at 20.20 and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce at 22.96 (pleasingly pushed by a Sherone Simpson comeback from adversity 22.97) - speak their own saga. Hell and powderhouse at the Trials if Bolt and our Queen of Sprint forget their defending world champion, wildcard status and compete.

June 25-28 are dates to remember.

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