Edwin Allen, Jago favourites for $1m at Grand Prix Finale
AFTER dominating the Digicel Central AthleticsChampionships which ended three days ago, Edwin Allen Girl's and St. Jago Boy's are in prime positions to walk away with the Grand prize of $1M each, awarded to the top female and male teams, as the Digicel Grand Prix comes to an end today inside the National Stadium. This is with the staging of the GC Foster Classics starting at 8:30am, with the 2000m Steeplechase for High School Girls. However, the Grand Prix events will start at 12:05pm for field events, while on the track action will get underway at 5:20 p.m.
After the four Regional meets: Western , Eastern, Corporate Area and Central Championships, the eight best individual athletes, along with the 4x400m relay teams, have advanced to the big party and fans are in for a treat as some $15M are down to be shared among the top teams and individuals. The top two teams will walk away with a million dollars each, the second place teams will receive $500,000 while third will get $250,000. There will be other prizes at the meet as all athletes who qualified for today's Grand Prix finals will see their institutions getting $25,000 for each qualifier, while record holders in today's Championships events will receive $25,000, and those who break national records will get $50,000. The coaches will not be left out, as the coach of the top male and female teams will receive $50,000 each.
Unlike previous years when points were carried over from previous meets, this time around, all teams will start from scratch. Because of this, it definitely has brought more interest among the teams, as athletes will not want to put a foot wrong with so much at stake. Digicel Senior Sponsorship and Development Manager, Kamal Powell, put things into perspective just after the Central Championships recently.
"I know all coaches will be crunching the numbers based on finishes across the regions, and I will call it the World Championships for high school track and field," Powell said.
The Michael Dyke coached Edwin Allen team will be seeking to make it three wins in a row, and despite not making it to the finals in the 4x400m, the team from Frankfield, Clarendon, which joins Excelsior with ten individual qualifiers each (the most among females), should come out on top once more, based on the quality of their athletes qualifying. These include the outstanding Kevona Davis in the Under 17 200m, who blazed to a blistering 23.56 seconds in a negative 4.5m per second head wind, in winning at the Central Championships. Other outstanding athletes from that institution include Cemore Donald and Rushana Dwyer in the Under 17 800m, Fiona Richards in the Girl's Under 20 Discus, Janique Burgher in the Under 17 high jump and Annia Ashley in the Girl's Under 20 Long jump.
After success last year, St. Jago High School, with a new coach, Rhansome Edwards has the most qualifiers among the male teams. They have 15 individuals along with the relay, and will definitely start favourites for success. Their bid will be led by Under 20 high jumper, Lushane Wilson, the Under 17 high jump duo of Damar Marshall and Vanderleer Palmer, as well as Under 20 half miler Leon Clarke.
While St. Jago High will start favourite to win, they cannot be comfortable as Corporate Area kingpins. Calabar, with 11 individuals and a relay team, and Kingston College, with 10 individuals could surprise. The outstanding Christopher Taylor is expected to win the Under 20 200m for Calabar, while teammate Michael Stevens could also do likewise in the Under 20 100m.
On the other hand, Kingston College is expected to score strongly in the field through captain Carey McLeod, in the Under 20 long jump, and with the Under 17 long jump duo of Wayne Pinnock and Shaquille Lowe. The final outcome could come down to the 4x400m, which could hurt Kingston College, who failed to advance to today's meet.
Some of the country's elite athletes who are preparing for the World Relays in the Bahamas next month, will also be on show today as well. There will be some events for them, which will be contested during the Grand Prix events. These include the 400m for both males and females.
It could come down to the final event, the 4x400m relay, which could hurt the North Street team which failed to field a strong team at the Corporate Area meet and failed to qualify.