Spotlight on top juniors this weekend
Junior athletes will be in the spotlight this weekend at the JAAA Supreme Ventures National Championships tomorrow and Saturday at the National Stadium.
The athletes will be seeking places on the national team to the IAAF World Junior Championships which is scheduled for Bydgoszcz, Poland, July 19-24.
With several of these athletes keeping in shape while competing at the weekly JAAA All Comers meets it is expected that competition will be fierce.
Defending World Junior 400 metres hurdles champion, Jaheel Hyde, will lead several athletes who are ranked in the top ten of their events. Hyde who won gold two years ago in Eugene, Oregon will be the big favourite to top the event this weekend and stay on course to defend his title. He sits at number one in the event on the IAAF Top Ten list after posting a season's best 49.16 seconds when finishing second at the Jamaica invitational International meet in May.
Other leading contenders in the event are Jauavney James of St. Elizabeth Technical, Calabar High's Akeem Francis, Timor Barrett of St Jago High and Kingston College's Orlando Smith and Sherwayne Allen.
Boys' Championships Class One stars Nigel Ellis of St Elizabeth Technical, Jhevaughn Matherson of Kingston College and St Jago High's Raheem Chambers will face-off again in the 100 metres.
Ellis has been outstanding so far this season and his best of 10.16 seconds sees him at number two on the IAAF's list in the event as only Abdullah Abker Mohammed of Saudi Arabia with 10.04 has gone faster.
Matherson and Chambers with season's best times of 10.25 each are at joint number eight on the top list and both could give Ellis more to do this time around. Elis with a best of 20.40 seconds is at number five in the 200 metres.
An event not to miss is the boys' 400 metres where World Youth champion Christopher Taylor of Calabar High will battle Carifta Games Under 20 champion, Akeem Bloomfield of Kingston College.
Taylor has been consistent all season in the event and showed that recently among the big boys at the Racers Grand Prix meet where he finished second in the A race in a season's best 45.66 seconds which has him at number 10 on the IAAF list.
Bloomfield, however, is the best schoolboy in the event and last year he created history when winning at "Champs" in sub 45 seconds to be the first local schoolboy in history to do so. Despite winning at "Champs" and Carifta, Bloomfield is plagued with injury and is yet to show that he is back in the form he was in last year. A 400 metres clash with Taylor could be very interesting. Chances are that Bloomfield could opt for the 200 metres instead where he has a season's best of 20.66 seconds which is number 10 on the IAAF list.
Overseas-based Damion Thomas, the Carifta Games Under 18 champion, will step up to battle Carifta Games Under 20 champion, Rohan Cole of University of Technology, in the 110 metres hurdles. Thomas who has to compete at the Under-20 height in high school in the United States has a season's best of 13.42 seconds which places him at number three on the IAAF list, ahead of Cole who is fifth with 13.48. It should be close between the two where Calabar High's Dejour Russell will be hoping to step up and create an upset.
In the boys' discus Calabar's Warren Barrett will be hoping for another big effort. He has been in good form all season and will be hoping to match his personal and season's best of 19.97 metres when winning the Under 20 event at the Carifta Games in Grenada. That distance has him at number four on the world list.
Kallawan leads the way
It has been an outstanding season so far for Edwin Allen High's ace 400 metres hurdler Shannon Kalawan.
Kalawan has shown tremendous improvement in the one-lap hurdles event far with her only defeat to her peers coming at the Penn Relays in cold condition where she finished second. She is well placed on the IAAF's list in second overall with 56.29 seconds, just behind leader, Sydney McLaughlin of the United states with 56.23. Two other Jamaicans, Holmwood Technical's Nicolle Foster (56.99) and Vere Technical's Shanique Walker (57.20) who are ranked fifth and sixth on the World list are expected to keep Kalawan busy this weekend.
St. Elizabeth Technical's Junelle Bromfield and Mico University College's Tiffany James are the leading lights in the girls' 400 metres. Bloomfield has been in excellent form all season beating her peers easily and with a season's best of 51.74 seconds she is at number two on the IAAF list which is led by Salwa Eid Naser of Bahrain with 51.63. James who is at number nine on the list with 52.30 will be hoping for an upset here and improve her season's and personal best times.
Penn Relays record holder in the girls' discus, Shanice Love of Excelsior, will be hoping for another big throw this season to boost her confidence ahead of the World Junior Championships.
Love, with a season's best of 54.72m is ranked at number four in the world and could be the first Jamaican female to be among the medals at this level.