Carifta Trials in Montego Bay?
January 23 was a momentous day in the history of Jamaican track and field. Most people will remember it as the day Calabar High School opened the doors to its first synthetic track to be laid at a high school in Jamaica. The meet, the first McKenley/Wint Classic, was a memorable occasion.
The mood was bright as all present enjoyed the sight and feel of the new facility. From a viewing perspective, the only drawbacks are that the throws and horizontal jumps are outside the oval, but that doesn't detract from the overall value the new track brings. In any case, those 'so-called' drawbacks disappear if you view the new facility mainly as a training venue.
As befits a meet carrying the names of megastar Olympians Arthur Wint and Herb McKenley, the event was thoughtfully operated with ticketing, parking and access to the track well worked out. It seems reasonable to assume that in the years to come, the grounds around the track will be developed with additional spectator seating and lighting.
Calabar High wasn't the only place that a new track opened on the 23rd. Thirty minutes away, the newly resurfaced oval at the GC Foster College for Physical Education & Sport was put into service at the Central Hurdles and Relays meet.
Never before have two new synthetic tracks been opened in Jamaica on the same day. That's history.
Calabar High and GC Foster College join the National Stadium, the Stadium East field, the University of the West Indies and the Catherine Hall Sport Complex as locations with modern tracks.
Catherine Hall is a great venue. It has already hosted the 2011 Carifta Games and shortly will play host to the annual Western Championships and Western Relays. For at least two reasons, it might be a good idea to move the Carifta Trials between Kingston and Montego Bay.
Having the Trials at the Sports Complex might stimulate interest in the sport in the west. It would also relieve western teams of the financial burden of travelling in alternate years. As things stand, western teams must budget for trips to Kingston for the Gibson-McCook Relays, the Trials and Boys and Girls' Championships, as well as for other meets in the Corporate Area that fit their needs.
Consider a future where a synthetic track is laid at a central Jamaica venue like the Kirkvine Sports Club just outside Mandeville. In that future, the Trials could move from Kingston to Kirkvine and then to Montego Bay. Imagine that.
n HUBERT LAWRENCE has been making notes at track side since 1980.