Over 4,000 athletes for INSPORTS Primary Champs
Considered one of the country's leading grass-roots meet, the 36th annual Institute of Sports (INSPORTS) Primary Schools Athletics Championships will see 92 schools, with over 4,000 athletes, squaring off for the coveted elite title as all-island primary school champions and $500,000 in equipment from May 11-14 at the National Stadium.
Having started with five schools in 1981, the event has since grown tremendously and action will start at 8 o'clock each morning.
Naggo Head Primary, considered "a true champion" by their principal, Andrea McGivvens, remains confident of winning a seventh title this year. Her school has won five consecutive titles and six overall.
Waterford Primary, with 10 titles, has won the most times.
"Our athletes have done well, and it is an event that we look forward to. Many of our athletes have gone on to high school and have done very well," said the principal, while citing names such as Stephon Fennell (former Kingston College standout), Tyler Mason (Jamaica College), and Calabar High's Michael Stephens.
"Naggo Head has really prepared them well, and I hope they can go on to represent Jamaica," she continued.
"There is no name as huge as Usain Bolt, and I implore all principals of primary schools to get on board and get all your athletes involved in the programme because this is where we unearth the talents.
"Not everybody is going to be an accountant, a teacher, a lawyer or a doctor. Usain Bolt is not one of such, but I can tell you, he is making millions," she added.
She called on the "administrative efforts of principals to continue nurturing youngsters".
World 400m youth champion Christopher Taylor was a recent standout at this meet, breaking the 400m record.
The event will see three new schools competing this year; Content Gap, May Pen, and Lacovia Primary.
The main sponsor is INSPORTS, while Hi Lyte and Tropical Blue are associate sponsors.
INSPORTS administrative director Ian Andrews implored: "Let it be about development and winning the reward.
"We are living up to our mandate, which is to unearth, promote, develop, and nurture the talents. That's what we are doing at the Institute of Sports," he said.
Andrews added: "Regrettably, we don't promote enough the achievements that we are having at the Primary level."
Meet director Anthony Gibbs said 41 events would be contested by the 4,117 athletes from the schools, which span the length and breadth of Jamaica to include places like Portland, Clarendon, and St James.