Laurie Foster | Hats off to JC
In keeping with Foster's Fairplay having track and field as its sport of choice, the final column of the year, will touch that discipline. However, how could the outstanding overall performances of Jamaica College (JC) on the football field be ignored or even sidelined?
This columnist, as if it does not, at times, display itself in these columns, is an unapologetic supporter of the institution where eight years of incarceration were spent. The atmosphere of that campus on Old Hope Road provided the incubation for the passion that has been driven over time for 'the games that people play'.
This year, the Dark Blues pouched seven titles at three different age levels, including the most sought-after and prestigious of them all, the Manning Cup, for the fifth year in succession. Kingston College, are you listening?
It would be remiss not to single out and commend the architects of these arguably unprecedented achievements. JC, at the senior level, was steered by the two magicians coach Miguel Coley from the bench and Tyreek Magee on the pitch. That said, the coaches at the junior level, deserve to receive their mention. They were former national player, Wayne Palmer (U-14) and Old Boy and former Manning Cup defence stalwart, Donald 'Fowlie' Stewart (U-16). Well done, JC . Simply brilliant.
Next year will be what has been called 'an off year' in track and field circles. This is because there is no global outdoor event taking place, leaving the Commonwealth Games to be staged in the Gold Coast, Australia as the main show stage for the nation's senior talent. At the Under-20 level, the World Junior, now changed to Under-20 Championships, will be held in the Finnish city of Tampere.
The April staging of the Games is an unusual time for Jamaica and its participation in events at this level. During the preceding period, traditionally, the country's top athletes would be preparing for the Penn Relays or other events that would give some indication as to how effective their preparation has been. However, there is expected to be a lower tier, anxious to win some medals denied them when the big stars are around.
With that in mind, and in the absence of Trials for selection, Foster's Fairplay is hoping that an athlete like 400m hurdler, Ristannana Tracey considers Gold Coast as a route to her first major title.
Her bronze medal at this year's World Championships should have excited her fans, this columnist included, after so many tries, even while still being quite young. Good fortune is her friend, as she has the benefit of the advice and conditioning of Sprintec Track Club and Jamaica's technical director, Maurice Wilson, whose programme is improving and producing quality athletes at a rapid rate. As a matter of fact, were this an exercise to name a female athlete of the year, based on the turbulence of the waters navigated to reach this point, the former Edwin Allen High miss would be the overwhelming choice.
The performance of Jamaica's female sprint hurdlers at the London World Champs this year, was encouraging, if not attaining the level of success, as this columnist was expecting. Danielle Williams was the defending champion but could have lost some confidence following her mishap at the Trials in Olympic year when she fell. It would be pleasing from this corner, if her coach, Lennox Graham's programme would afford her presence at the Gold Coast. This is said, while still bearing in mind that home girl, Sally Pearson whom she beat on the circuit at least once this year, is expected to be there.
As a final thought to the sprint hurdling scenario, with what the nation is now seeing, one can dare to dream about the memorable 15-year (1995 - 2009) era. It was a period when Michelle Freeman, Brigitte Foster-Hylton, Gillian Russell, Dionne Rose and Delloreen Ennis-London, saw two-three Jamaicans making it to the finals of a world 100mh event. Now, apart from Danielle, there is US Collegiate Rushell Burton, coached to a World Junior silver in 2016 by Leacroft Bolt, Sprintec's Yanique Thompson, a former World Youth Champion and MVP Track Club's Megan Simmonds.
Despite the setbacks mentioned and the usual paucity of the big stars, the hope is that Jamaican athletes will sparkle as the name of the host city suggests.
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