Introduce 100m hurdles earlier - Kerr
Respected female junior track and field coach Michael Kerr is calling on ISSA to introduce 100m hurdles much earlier for girls in high schools, noting that this would help the development of female sprint hurdlers at the senior international level.
Kerr, who is in his 30th year as head track and field coach of Wolmer's Girls School and who has also been involved in the national junior programme for over 20 years as a coach to the CARIFTA Games, the World Youth Championships, and the World Junior Championships, believes that Jamaica can dominate the event on the world stage for a long period if athletes are introduced to the event earlier.
At present, local female high school athletes start competing in the 100 metres hurdles in Class II, with the 70m hurdles in Class IV and 80m hurdles in Class III presenting their introduction to the sprint hurdles.
"Based on my observation, most of the times, it is our male sprint hurdlers who tend to do much better on the international scene as they start running 100m and 110m hurdles much earlier than our girls," said Kerr.
Kerr stated that the Europeans and the Americans are ahead of the Jamaicans because they start running 100m hurdles at a much earlier stage.
"In the United States, for example, once you are in high school the females compete over 100m hurdles and also at the Olympic height of 83.8 centimetres, and here, they have a big advantage over us, and that is the reason why they have so many athletes ranked in the top 10 on the world list," continues Kerr.
"I believe they should cut out the 70m hurdles in Class IV and let them do 80m hurdles, but once they reach Class III, they must introduce 100m hurdles. Because of our present system, the athletes have to deal with three forms of changes in high school in terms of distance," said Kerr, who also stated that the height of the 100m hurdles should also be moved up from 76.2 centimetres to the regular 83.8 centimetres in Class II as once this is done earlier, it will prepare them for the bigger picture.
After seeing Yanique Thompson win gold in the 100m hurdles at the World Youth Championships in 2013 and Rushelle Burton win silver at the World Junior Championships this past summer in Bydgoszcz, Poland, Kerr stated that the gap was too far and it was just a one-off scenario.
"These hurdle heights were done by the Game Mistress Association (GMA), which then was in charge of Girls Championships, but now with ISSA in charge, they must implement the changes and change with the times as Champs is the measuring stick for our success, and we need to look into this area," said Kerr.