Thu | Oct 19, 2017

No hurdles a big mistake by Digicel GP organisers

Published:Saturday | January 23, 2016 | 12:00 AM

The revelation that there would again be no hurdles event in this year's Digicel Grand Prix series at the recent launch came as a big shock for many individuals close to the sport.

On the schedule are the: 100 metres, 200 metres, 400 metres, 800 metres and 4x400 metres relays, along with the long and high jumps. The latter was added to the list this year.

This snub can be seen as a slap in the face for the athletes who are involved in both the intermediate and sprint hurdles. One can understand the hurdles' absence during last year's introductory season of the Grand Prix, but it is indeed a big mistake that for the second year in a row this discipline is not one of those events that will be contested.

The people who make up the Technical Committee are competent individuals and they do understand the strength of the country's track and field, so why add the high jump and not one of the hurdle events? Why is it that both the 100m and 200m are being contested at the same meets? They could simply have replaced the 200m with either the 100m hurdles or the 400m hurdles.

Outside of the 100 metres, hurdle events have been the country's most successful at the international level, and athletes doing this discipline should be encouraged.

At the last IAAF World Junior Junior Championships in Eugene, Oregon, Jamaica had two medallists as Jaheel Hyde won gold in the 400m hurdles, while Tyler Mason won silver in the 110m hurdles.

Last summer, it was gold for Danielle Williams in the women's 100m hurdles with her sister Shermaine also making the final. In the men's 110m hurdles Hansle Parchment, an Olympic bronze medallist, won the silver medal here, while Omar McLeod almost made it to the final. Also, the defending champion in the men's 110 metres hurdles at the Commonwealth Games is none other than our own Andrew Riley.

If we are getting success in a particular discipline, we must continue to give the younger athletes in the event the support and encouragement that they need.

EXCELLENT TRACK RECORD

Jamaica's track record in the hurdles has been excellent over the years with several athletes winning major medals.

Among the juniors it started with Gillian Russell and continued with Camille Robinson, Shermaine Williams, Natasha Ruddock, Latoya Greaves, Sherene Pinnock, Yanique Thompson, Jeneive Russell, Marvin Williams and Keiron Stewart who have all won medals at the junior level internationally.

Among the seniors the likes of Michelle Freeman, Deon Hemmings, Delloreen Ennis- London, Brigitte Foster-Hylton, Winthrop Graham and Danny McFarlane have all had major success.

The Digicel Grand Prix series will start on Saturday February 6 with the Western Championships in Montego Bay and the Youngster Goldsmith inside the National Stadium.

There is hope that good sense will prevail and it will not be too late for the organisers to have a change of heart and replace one of the sprint events with either the sprint or intermediate hurdles.

- R.G.