Sat | Sep 23, 2017

Foster's Fairplay | Trials to answer many questions

Published:Tuesday | June 28, 2016 | 6:00 AM

For some time, the medal-counting exercise, going into the Rio Olympics in August, has been up and running.

Some track-and-field enthusiasts, including the experienced voice of five-time Olympian Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, are saying "it will be more than ever".

Foster's Fairplay, forever cautious, has stayed adrift of those predictions, as enticing for debate as they might be.

Yes, the contenders for podium spots have been parading with pleasurable promise against those who they are likely to encounter come August.

Added to that is the wider scope of sources from which medals are mined - the men's 110m hurdles with the Diamond League success of a 22-year-old Omar McLeod speaking with eloquence to that. All questions will be answered this weekend.

 

 ANTICIPATION OF EXCITEMENT

There is an anticipation of excitement with the jockeying for places in the women's sprints. The undisputed queen in this columnist's reckoning is Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. She is tried and proven by virtue of an outstanding record of global gold medals.

Hampered by injury this season, the inaugural Racers Grand Prix saw her storm back with a 100m victory in 11.09. The nature of the execution signalled a return to where she needs to be, approaching the daunting prospect of the unprecedented three straight gold medals in the event at the world's most prestigious sporting stage.

Her MVP and Stephen Francis-prepared teammate, Elaine Thompson, must be harbouring her own top-end ambitions for global glory. The shorter race title was denied her at the World Championships in Beijing last year when coach Francis took a still-contested decision - to let her seek only the 200m win.

Judging from her 2016 outings, Veronica Campbell-Brown is determined not to be out of the main mix. The three are on course to face the Rio female sprint gun. What happens there could be a different matter.

Over in the men's arena, the Usain Bolt bore will persist. His only real rival, Yohan Blake, is still fighting the ill effects of a forced vacation from elite competition. The quality of the challenge the 9.69 joint number-two all-time will mount will be a true testament to the efficacy of his coach, Glen Mills.

Spare a thought for the long-campaigning Nesta Carter, whose move was halted by a questionable drug-testing policy, which dug up and retested samples, ruled negative at first go.

Also, just coming into the picture is Commonwealth champion Kemar Bailey-Cole, who has a Zika virus challenge that could hamper last-minute preparations. With 200m specialists Jason Livermore and Rasheed Dwyer yapping at their feet, both Warren Weir and Nickel Ashmeade have taken out insurance policies by competing in both sprints to maximise their chances of gaining a berth in the Rio selections.

There has been a lot of controversy in both halves of the 400m. Of two schoolboys, it is still not clear who will show up. Foster's Fairplay can see no good reason for a 16-year-old in Christopher Taylor to be exposed to the rigours of doing rounds against men. His Kingston College fellow Boys' Champs standout Akeem Bloomfield, in kid gloves since a national junior record 44.93 last year, is always going to be a risk. Is it worth it?

Javon Francis, with a 44.77 season best, should prove the pick of the field. Fitzroy Dunkley (45.06 season best) out of the US collegiate system, and all that that entails, must, however, be mentioned.

All of Stephenie-Ann McPherson, Shericka Jackson, and Christine Day, the last-named now relocated from the MVP Track Club to Cameron Blazers, bear consideration for female honours.

One cannot ignore the anticipation of excitement coming from a most unlikely area, if past history counts. How could it be imagined back then that Jamaica would be seeing four male discus throwers going head to head to fill three places - allowed at a global event?

After creating history by having the world-level pioneer, Jason Morgan, former World Youth and World Junior champion Federick Dacres, and Chad Wright at the Beijing World Champs last year, the man who opened the medal door, plus Traves Smikle joining them for Trials.

What a Jamaica!

See you on the weekend at the National Stadium.

- For feedback: Email lauriefoster2012@gmail.com