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Aiming for the top - Jamaican U18s target medal dominance in Kenya

Published:Monday | July 10, 2017 | 12:00 AMRaymond Graham

Eleven of Jamaica's youth athletes will be in action when the first day of competition of the 10th and final staging of the IAAF World Under-18 Championships get underway in Nairobi, Kenya 1:30am tomorrow, Jamaica time.

Six countries, including the United States, Canada, Switzerland, Japan, New Zealand and Great Britain, have withdrawn from this year's staging citing security concerns.

Jamaica looks set to emulate the performance of four years ago in Donetsk, Ukraine, when the country had its first ever medal table topping at a global meet with eight medals, which included six gold and two bronze. Jamaica should surpass the medal haul of the one garnered two years ago in Cali, Colombia, where outstanding quarter-miler Christopher Taylor mined gold in the one-lap event.




Jamaica's head coach Michael Carr is very upbeat going into the Championships.

"Training sessions have been going on well," he said. "Everyone is looking forward to the start of the competition tomorrow, and so far, no injuries. All the top players are in good nick, and our expectations are high, but you know this is a Championships and anything can happen. "

The first set of athletes to take the track for the country tomorrow will be Tyreke Wilson and Xavier Nairne, who will compete in the heats of the Boys' 100m at 1:55 a.m. Wilson and Nairne look set to advance to the semi-finals, then the finals, which will be the final event of the opening day at 11:20 a.m. Jamaican time.

Tomorrow's first session will see three other Jamaicans in action. At 3:20 a.m. Shaquena Foote, the number-two ranked athlete with 53.69 seconds, will compete in the first round of the girls' 400m event. Thirty minutes later, Wayne Pinnock will be involved in the boys' long jump first round, where his season's best of 7.25m has him at number 14 out of the 16 athletes that will be competing in the event. Both Anthony Cox and Antonio Watson, who are third and fourth ranked in the 400m, respectively, with identical times of 47.05 seconds, will compete in the heats of the boys' 400m at 4:05 a.m., to close out the first session.

The second session will begin at 9:00 a.m. with the semi-finals of the boys' 100m, where both Wilson and Nairne are expected to be involved. At 9:25 a.m, Safin Willis, with a season's best 15.32m and Qwayne Owens with a best of 15.16m, will be hoping to advance to the finals after competing in the preliminary round of the boys' triple jump. Tyrese Reid and Kemar Farquharson are down to compete in the first round of the boys' 800m at 9:40 a.m..

Kevona Davis, who is the overwhelming favourite to win the sprint double and become the third female athlete at these Championships to do so, will take the track at 10:45 a.m. in the preliminary round of the girls' 100m. With a season and lifetime best of 11.24 seconds, all eyes will be on the Jamaican who could join the likes of Great Britain's Jodie Williams and the United States' Candace Hill as double champions at the end of the meet.