Hubert Lawrence | That Calabar High 4x400 metres!
Ever since Anthony Carpenter, Christopher Taylor, Shemar Chambers and Malik James-King of Calabar High School clocked three minutes 05.04 seconds at the Corporate Area Championships on Friday, track and field fans have been buzzing with admiration and anticipation. Amid the praise for coach Michael Clarke and his Calabar charges is a feeling that Jamaica can break the world junior record.
That has stood at three minutes 01.09 seconds for 14 years. That's mighty quick for a team composed of boys no more than 19 years of age, and yet, the clamour for the record has a believable ring to it. When Calabar zoomed last Friday, Carpenter, Taylor, Chambers and James-King had all done other events in the two-day Championships. Were they rested, they might have gone faster.
That's one reason for the optimism. The other contends reasonably that a Jamaican under-20 team would be even stronger. Deshawn Morris of Kingston College clocked 45.93 seconds earlier in the Corporate Area meet to place second to Taylor and well ahead of Chambers over 400 metres. Adding Morris, Petersfield's World Under-18 400 champion Antonio Watson, who has run 46.59, should strengthen the team.
The deliberations also include World Under-18 finalist Anthony Cox of St Jago High since he has run 46.53 seconds.
The world record is no joke. While the Calabar time was set with just one blistering leg, Taylor's 44.9 second stint, the record had sub-45 legs from Olympic champions-in-waiting Lashawn Merritt and Kerron Clement. The starter, Brandon Johnson, also did an awesome job with a 45.2 second lead off.
Time will tell whether Jamaica can go that fast. What seems certain is that Calabar will go faster. That might happen this Saturday at the Gibson-McCook Relays.
Equally certain is that Jamaica has a chance to win the 4x400m at this year's World Under-20 Championships in July. It might take two Christopher Taylors to break the world record but Calabar's fine Friday showing is a sign of good things to come. Importantly, it signals growing strength in the event that made Jamaica famous.
Hubert Lawrence has made notes at trackside since 1980.