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Quarter milers raring for spotlight

Published:Thursday | June 25, 2015 | 6:00 AMGregory Spaulding
Francis
McDonald
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Quarter-milers raring for spotlight

IT IS said that a donkey can never win a thoroughbred race. However, the 'National Derby', over 400m, may see an exception to this rule.

The 400m for senior men is shaping up to be the spotlight feature of the JAAA National Athletics Trials. On the world stage, the nation's one-lappers may have been going through a series of impotence at the event, but the end of this state of affairs may be insight for diehard track fans, as the super 'Donkey Man' is champing at the bit and is ready to gallop to a time not presented by a Jamaican in over a decade.

Not since the likes of Gregory Haughton, Roxbert Martin and Davian Clarke has there been such a serious buzz over the event. The hum must be attributed to the recent form of Akan Track Club's senior quarter-mile sensation, Javon Francis.

Francis is expected lead the one-lappers' resurgence with a winning effort and an automatic pick to the World Championships. Three weeks ago, Francis appeared to test his new race model, when clocking 44.96 seconds at a meet in Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States. But a week later, he refined this prototype plan at the fifth and final JAAA All Comers meet, galloping effortlessly to a new personal best of 44.50 seconds, and crossing the line with some fuel in the tank.

However, the race for the title is not confined to Francis.

Rusheen McDonald, a beast in his own right - out of the University of Technology (UTech)/MVP stables - will attempt to roar hard at these trials. McDonald, now 22 years old, also posted a lifetime best 44.60 seconds in the same heat as Francis, setting the race pace and shaving his previous best by half a second for the distance. He could steal a march and spoil the plans of the Akans.

A herd of former national champions are also slated to tussle for the automatic spots on the Jamaican team as individual participants or as members of the relay pool. Among these are Javere Bell, Ricardo Chambers, Riker Hylton and Jermaine Gonzales.

The youthful aspirants include schoolboys Nathon Allen of St Jago and Twayne Crooks of Kingston College, who are both expected to test the 45-second barrier. At least one of the two should make the top eight, and line up against the likes of Nicholas Maitland, Dane Hyatt, Chumiene Fitten and Oral Thompson. They, too, will be raring for the spotlight at the JAAA senior trials.