St Andrew aim for three-peat
Two-time defending champion St. Andrew are aiming for a third consecutive victory at this year's Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA)/Sagicor National Athletics Championship, which starts on Friday at the National Stadium.
The defending champions amassed 359.5 points to dominate the championships last year, laying claim to their 18th title. St Catherine were their closest rivals with 255.50 points, followed by St Ann (230 points).
The 34th staging of the annual two-day event promises to be an entertaining speed fest as over 1200 primary, all-age and junior high school student-athletes from across the island will showcase their athletic prowess.
The battle is yet again expected to come down to the two perennial contenders in St Andrew and St Catherine, who have finished first and second respectively, in the past two stagingsz of the championships. Last year, St Andrew enjoyed a comfortable margin of victory but a year earlier, they only barely managed to see off the St. Catherine team. St. Andrew totalled 326 points, just enough to beat St Catherine's 311. If any team can stop the St Andrew train it is certainly the St Catherine outfit though St Ann has been steadily improving and could be eyeing a title chase this year.
"St Catherine, Portland, St. Ann and St Elizabeth are fierce competitors, with strong teams and will be looking to stop St. Andrew from winning the Parish Championships three years in a row," said Colin Spence, chairman of the National Sports Committee. He noted that based on their performances during the parish level competition, St Catherine especially, will mount a challenge for St Andrew.
Student athletes, ages six to 17 years, from more than 800 schools, will be competing for the title of parish champion. As in previous years, the first day of championship remains free to the public, while Saturday, the final day of the meet, an entrance fee of $200 for adults and $100 for children under 12 will be charged for entry. On both days, the championship will start at 10 a.m. and finish at 5:30 p.m.
The JTA-Sagicor National Athletics Championships has been fostering development of Jamaica's top athletes in its 33-year existence. The championship has nurtured the likes of Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Kerron Stewart, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Bert Cameron, Nesta Carter, Sherone Simpson, Aleen Bailey and Brigitte Foster-Hylton, among others.