Tue | Sep 26, 2017

Champs Memories!

Published:Saturday | March 19, 2016 | 3:00 AMGary Spaulding

It was in the spring of 1978 that for the first time in the country's history, a Jamaican schoolboy leapt over seven feet.

Thousands discarded abiding love for schools nurtured in the competitive atmosphere that characterised Champs.

Track and field enthusiasts were keen to partake in a delectable piece of history that was tauntingly placed before them.

Former Kingston College (KC) high jumper Desmond "Zele" Morris, might have been the only athlete at Champs to silence the entire stadium in one soaring swoop.

No one dared to cheer when he lifted his lanky frame beyond seven feet, a new feat at the great games.

Zele was a tall, lanky, hurdler and sprinter.

A gazelle in his own right, but Zele was not quite as quick over the hurdles as his teammate, Kenneth 'Sonny' Gray.

Nor was he as fast in the sprints as Marlon Pottinger.

But there were no two ways about it - Zele was the supreme high jumper, constantly rising to new levels since the early 1970s.

So it was that the lanky lad, already the holder of the classes three and two long jump records, was expected to soar to unprecedented heights in 1979.

The record for Class One high jump 37 years ago was in the region of 6' 10" when he lounged for the tackle.

It was twilight under the glare of the National Stadium lights.

Zele had broken the old mark and was approaching the hitherto unbelievable height of seven feet.

The suspense was heightened by Zele's need to don his purple and white sweat suit as if some magic was concealed in its secret compartment.

Thousands waited on him.

Zele jumped.

Again.

The painstaking process was repeated.

Finally, Zele was challenged to clear the unbelievable height.

He did and even went a quarter of an inch above the "unreachable" mark.

The packed stadium, awe saluted by applauding.

Like many had done before, another Jamaican had created history to make the Boys and Girls' Championships only the greatest of its kind on the globe.