World Relays a great opportunity for present and future stars - Clarke
Head coach Michael Clarke believes this weekend's IAAF World Relays provides an excellent opportunity to showcase the island's present and future stars and believes the platform will offer rich experience for the 'newbies' making the trip.
Set for the Thomas A. Robinson Stadium in Nassau, The Bahamas, the Jamaicans will be looking to go one better than last year's position and unseat the United States at the top of the pile, at the event which takes stride on May 2 and 3.
In addition to global superstars and experienced campaigners such as Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Novlene Williams-Mills, Nesta Carter, Kerron Stewart, Warren Weir and Sherone Simpson, the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) has also included several promising youngsters in its squad.
High-schoolers Nathon Allen and Twayne Crooks, and Natasha Morrison number among the most inexperienced on the team heading to The Bahamas.
"This team is a great balance between the experienced and those who are coming, and I think it's a great opportunity for those that are coming to gain some valuable experience for the World Championships coming up later this year," said Clarke.
Several other youngsters have withdrawn from the team for various reasons, including sub-10 seconds sprinter Kemarley Brown, Andrew Fisher, Julian Forte, Shericka Jackson - the fastest Jamaican woman in the 200m (22.89) and second fastest over 400m (51.39) this year, Janieve Russell - the Commonwealth Games 400m bronze medal winner, world leader Elaine Thompson (10.92) and Christania Williams, along with overseas-based middle-distance runners Andre Thomas and Jeromia Riley.
Still, Clarke is expecting those that make the trip to make the most of the opportunity as they continue their development in the senior ranks.
"We have been doing well, but we, of course, need someone to take up the mantle after the sun has set for the older athletes, so this is a great opportunity for us to showcase our past and our future," Clarke told The Gleaner. "I think it's also testimony to the programme that we have in Jamaica, to the work that the JAAA is doing and to the support system that we have established around these athletes, to the point where they can make a senior team for a major championships.
"It's a great chance for them (younger athletes) to gain some experience and they can only benefit from it for the future. I am extremely happy that they are given this opportunity as young as they are and it augurs well for the future and for the benefit of not only themselves or their families, but also the country," added Clarke.