Champs Watch 17 | The best single event
In 2016, the boys' Class One 100 metres was the most anticipated event at Boys and Girls Championships. Nigel Ellis of St Elizabeth Technical (STETHS), Raheem Chambers of St Jago High and Jhevaughn Matherson of Kingston College all had possible claims to the most sought after gold medal in the greatest secondary level championships in the world. Everybody was watching.
Ellis won in 10.18 seconds and became the first STETHS boy to win the Class One 100m, ahead of Chambers and Matherson.
A year later, with Ellis and Chambers both gone, Matherson is the early favourite in the same event despite the arrival of the last two Class Two champions - the Calabar High School pair of De'Jour Russell and Michael Stevens - in his age category. With that pair being brought along slowly by the Calabar coaching staff headed by Michael Clarke, there's no buzz about 'the 100m' just yet. Instead current consensus on the best event at Champs this points elsewhere.
If Champs started on February 18 and not March 28, the best event would be the Class Two 100 metres hurdles for girls. Four fine athletes have presented themselves as candidates for the three medals on offer. Brittany Anderson of Vere, last year's Class Three 80 metres winner and record breaker, has already run faster than the Class Two record of 13.38 seconds. Shanette Allison, Holmwood's former Class Three and Four gold medallist, and Ray-Donna Lee of Hydel are going so fast that some experts worry that reigning champion Dazsay Freeman of Manchester High will be pushed off the podium this time.
Freeman hasn't done too many hurdle races so far this season. While she's been away, Anderson, Allison and Lee have been super. The compact Allison zipped 13.46 seconds at the Central Hurdles and Relays last month on the same day that Lee beat Anderson at the Wint/McKenley Classic at Calabar. That time by Allison broke the Central Hurdles and Relays record which was set by Peta-Gaye Williams who set the Champs record in 2013.
Allison and Anderson ran 13.40 and 13.48 in different races at the Queens/Grace Jackson meet and when they met at the Youngster Goldsmith Classic, Anderson unleashed her run of 13.18 seconds with Lee at 13.51.
Yet, when Lee met Freeman at the Western Relays last Saturday, they ran neck and neck to the finish with Lee getting the edge in 13.5 seconds.
Freeman ran 13.69 seconds into a heavy headwind to take the gold medal at Boys and Girls' Champions last year. Her close race with Lee will make the others know that she will be ready when it counts.
In the meantime, the high quality in this year's Class Two 100 metres hurdles makes the event the best event this time around. Allison, Anderson, Freeman and Lee, listed here alphabetically, present hope for the future as current World Champion Danielle Williams also won in Class Two, in her last year at the Queen's School.
Anderson and Freeman even have Williams' long legged frame. Allison and Lee are smaller and fizz with speed. Perhaps, for one of them, the old Champs adage will prove true by giving fans a chance to see an Olympic champion in the making.
- HUBERT LAWRENCE has attended Champs since 1980.