Sat | Feb 24, 2018

Champs Watch 17 | Who Will The Changes Hurt?

Published:Saturday | February 11, 2017 | 12:00 AMHubert Lawrence
Former STETHS star Junelle Bromfield.
Calabar's De'Jour Russell.

After the initial fuss, arguments have stopped over new restrictions on the number of events individual athletes can do at Boys and Girls' Championships. The protests seemed more concerned with the speed with which the changes have been implemented than with the objective of safeguarding the student athletes from burnout. Just about everyone agrees with that.

The changes have made some event combinations disappear like magic. In 2015, Calabar's Michael O'Hara carried his team to victory with a determined Class One 100m/200m/110m hurdles triple with a scorching 4x100m relay second leg as the cream topping on a captain's innings. Last year, Junelle Bromfield scored 27 points for St Elizabeth Technical High (STETHS) by winning the Class One 400, 800 and 1500 metres.

Bromfield ended the day with a powerful anchor on the winning STETHS 4x400m team.

A triple like that hadn't been seen at Girls Champs since Tanya Jarrett won the Class Three 400, 800 and 1500m in 1993 but Britnie Dixon did haul in 25 points for Vere Technical High School in Class Two with a commonly done trio of events, the 800 and 1500 which she won and the 3000m in which she placed second. None of those triples are allowed anymore as no athlete can do more than two individual running events.

This distance treble has been done by many in Girls Champs history including Natoya Goule and Evette Turner. The latter set records in the Class Three 800m and 1500m and Open 3000m in 1992.




Big high-quality teams won't suffer too much. De'Jour Russell did a Class Two 100m/200m/110m hurdles triple for Calabar last year, but can't do that this time around. He doesn't need to. The superlative Calabar Class One sprint team has outgoing senior Xavior Angus and Russell's first year Class One colleagues Michael Stevens, a happily fit again Tyreke Wilson and former Corporate Area Class Two 100 metre champion Daniel Bogle to choose from. The added option at 200 metres is Class Two record holder Christopher Taylor.

Vere are not so lucky. In addition to the restrictions faced by Dixon, the school's top Class Two athlete - Britany Anderson is constrained. Last year, she won the Class Three 80m hurdles and long jump with a bronze medal run in the 200m added for good measure. Already this season, she has run the 100m hurdles in 13.18 seconds. That's two-tenths of a second faster than the Champs record set by Peta-Gaye Williams when she was at Camperdown.

Anderson could probably challenge in the 100m and is also known to be a fine high jumper.

The new rules carefully restrict the number of events Class Three athletes can do. For example, not one of them can run the 4x400m. That might touch St Jago's reigning Class Three 400m champion Joanne Reid. The early season favourites to challenge Reid, Daniella Deer of Holmwood and Hydel's Garriel Whyte, will watch the 4x400m from afar as well

Previous holders of that crown, like 2016 Olympic 4x400m silver medal winner Anneisha McLaughlin, were able to run the long relay for their schools as the corresponding stage.




Heptathletes can no longer do additional events. That will corner Trishuana Hemmings of Hydel High School. She was Class Two runner-up for Glengoffe High in 2015 in the long jump and the 100 metre hurdles. If she does the heptathlon for Hydel, she will only be able to watch the other events. She was third in the 7-in-1 two-day event last year and those above her, Janelle Fullerton and Zinedeine Russell, are off in the USA on scholarship.

The best guess is that schools with big squads will pull away from contenders with smaller teams. Why? The larger teams will more readily be able to deploy quality athletes to address the new landscape. The contenders will have no choice but to build bigger squads if they hope to catch up.

- Hubert Lawrence has attended Champs since 1980.