Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Gibson/McCook Relays eliminates dilemma

Published:Thursday | February 25, 2016 | 2:00 AMHubert Lawrence
Racers Lions' Usain Bolt (second left) receives the baton from Warren Weir (2099) as he trails UTech's Tyquendo Tracey (centre) on anchor in the men's 4x100m at the 2015 Gibson McCook Relays at the National Stadium.

All season, track and field fans have had a dilemma. With the JAAA schedule packed on every Saturday from the start of the year, hard choices have been made. If you saw the slip-surge 10.44-second run by Calabar High School's Christopher Taylor at the Camperdown Classic, it meant you missed the determined 52.4 4x400m anchor leg by Junelle Bromfield for STETHS at the Western Relays.

Choosing either one meant almost certainly missing the 51.91-metre record discus heave by Excelsior throws princess Shanice Love at the King of the Rings at the Antrim-Mountain View Avenue-based institution.

That dilemma disappears on Saturday with the Gibson/McCook Relays. As is customary, there are no other meets on the JAAA schedule on the day when the Gibson/McCook Relays presents a feast for sprint fans.

First staged as the Gibson Relays in 1973, the meet is a festival of speed. The 4x100-metre relay is at the foundation of the meet, with preparatory, primary, secondary and tertiary student-athletes all attempting to move their batons around the National Stadium track at high speed.

Bordered by the meet-opening and meet-closing 4x400m relays, Gibson/McCook also has competitions in the 4x200m, 4x800m, the sprint medley and selected individual events.

Jamaica has always loved the sprints, so while other meets have come and gone, the Relays has retained its appeal.

Many view it as a prelude to the ISSA Boys and Girls' Championships and use it as an indicator for the results of that high-energy high-school meet. Hence, the core of the support of the Gibson/McCook has long come from past students of the champion teams in the land.

With no scheduling dilemma to split the attentions of the fan base, this Saturday should be no different.

In recent years, interest has been boosted by the presence of superstars who have foregone the traditional move to the United States of America to study and train.

This has given fans an early-season glance at Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, Brigitte Foster-Hylton and the like. Very few have the opportunity to see them at the Olympics or the World Championships, so it's a day aficionados cherish.

Bolt has been a brilliant source of speed and excitement. His Racers team holds the men's 4x100m record at a phenomenal 38.08 seconds. That was at the 2010 renewal, when the tall man also zipped through a 4x400m anchor leg in 44.2 seconds in vain.

Last year, he made the news worldwide for a race his Racers team lost by inches, the men's 4x100m to the University of Technology.

Relays are the team event of athletics. It takes co-operation to pilot the baton, from start to finish, safely and quickly enough to win. The speed, the fine margins for error, and the excitement, has kept fans on the edge of their seats and on their feet during each of the previous 39 stagings of the event.

Don't be surprised if it happens again on Saturday.

- Hubert Lawrence has made notes at trackside since 1980.