Ja's athletes will face a few challenges at Carifta
Jamaica's supremacy at the Carifta Games isn't likely to be threatened when the 46th staging of the regional junior athletics championships starts today in The Bahamas.
However, there are individual events where Jamaican rule will be challenged. In some of those cases, the major threat comes from a small pool of athletes who go to high schools in the land of wood and water.
These Jamaica-based student-athletes include St Lucian sprinter Julien Alfred; the pearl of the Turks and Caicos Islands, 400 metres runner Colby Jennings; and the Cayman Islands high jumper Louis Gordon. Alfred won the Commonwealth Youth Games 100 metres title in The Bahamas last year and has run 11.64 seconds but will need to speed to overcome the Jamaican pair of Michae Harriot and Ockera Myrie in the Carifta Under-20 100 metres. Harriot and Myrie clocked times of 11.44 and 11.45 seconds at the Boys and Girls' Championships last week in Class One.
Alfred, who attends St Catherine High School, will also face Myrie in the 200 metres. Myrie won that event at Championships in 23.31 seconds. That time supersedes Alfred's best of 23.74.
The home country will rely on fast-starting Devine Parker, who was second to Harriot in the Under-18 200 metres.
A CHANCE TO WIN
With the impressive Jamaica Dashawn Morris likely to be slowed by injuries suffered at Boys and Girls' Championships, Jennings may be in with a chance to win the Under-20 boys 400 metres. Schooled and trained at Jamaica College, Jennings was third at last year's IAAF World Under-18 Championship. He will have to contend with the winner of that race, Antonio Watson of Jamaica.
Both will be concerned if Barbadian 800 metre specialist Jonathan Jones enters the 400m. Jones is the defending 800 metres champion but has run the one-lap race in 46.30 seconds this season.
Gordon cleared 2.10 metres to win the bronze medal for Kingston College in the Championships Class One high jump last week. The Carifta Under-20 version is shaping up to be one of the most competitive contests of the meet. The host country has two 2.08 jumpers in Shaun Miller and Kyle Alcine. Jamaica replies with two at 2.10 metres, Ricardo Clarke and Gordon's Kingston College teammate Jon-Michael Davis.
Jones figures highly on the list of athletes to be watched keenly. Though the Jamaican pair of Kimar Farquharson and Tarees Rhoden have run 1 minute 50.16 seconds and 1.50.73 this season, Jones appears to be peaking perfectly. Bound for the University of Texas on a track scholarship later this year, Jones ran his fast 400m recently and has a personal best of 1 minute 48.16 seconds in the 800 metres.
He took the 2016 Under-18 800m gold medal with a fine run timed in 1 minute 49.88 seconds.
Also on that watch list is Guyanese long jumper Chantoba Bright. With her 18th birthday approaching on April 4, she goes to The Bahamas as the South American Under-20 Champion. She won that title with a leap of 6.30 metres. That's beyond the best by the Jamaican duo Annia Ashley and Lotavia Brown.