Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Champs Memories!!!

Published:Thursday | March 17, 2016 | 3:00 AMGary Spaulding
Everald Samuels (left) finishes second to Raymond Stewart in the men’s Invitational 100 metres at the Gibson Relays in 1984. Samuels, then running for St Andrew Technical High School (STATHS), upstaged Kingston College’s ‘Bally Reid’ to win the sprint double at Champs in 1976.

It is Champs 1976 and grand showdowns loomed in more ways than one.

Everald Samuels', St Andrew Technical High School's meteoric rise loomed large.

Samuels seemed destined to upstage the reigning 100 metres champion, Balford 'Bally' Reid of Kingston College (KC).

It was an era when KC harboured the notion that although red, the stadium track was its domain.

Samuels and Calabar High had different plans.

And so it was also a year when the long reign of KC as Boys' athletics champions was under severe threat.

KC had been victorius for 14 consecutive years, stretching from 1962 to 1975.

A year earlier, Bally Reid had set a new mark of 10.4 seconds (hand-timed). But in 1976, Samuels, the high-kneed wonder boy, emerged out of the Bumper Hall-based school hitherto devoid of a reputation in the sprints.

On Friday, the first of the two-day event, 40 years ago, both Reid and Samuels cruised through the heats of the 100 metres.

Tensions were lifted to fever pitch, however, as the dominant duo drew the same semi-finals race.

The stage was set in an arena that was not for the faint of heart.

There was silence at the start of the race and noise in between. When it was done, there was a thunderous hush in the section of the bleachers painted 'purple'.

Samuels not only conquered the mighty 'Bally Reid', he also equalled the record of 10.4 seconds set by Reid the previous year.

A new star was born, underlining the beginning of the end of the long dynasty of the redoubtable KC as Calabar, perennial rivals, rebounded with colour and ferocity for the first time in 15 years to secure the Mortimer Geddes Trophy.

Samuels, though, was not done.

He was even more dominant in the 200 metres, becoming the first schoolboy athlete to run under 21 seconds (hand-timed).

His record 20.9 seconds stood until it was broken by Clarendon College's Norman Mills in 1979.