JTA/Sagicor National Athletic Champs a springboard to greatness
For 34 years, the JTA/Sagicor Athletic sChampionships has served the nation's most successful sport of track and field with great success. Olympic and World Champions such as Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake, Veronica Campbell-Brown, and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce have all emerged from this all-island championship to represent the country with distinction.
While the aforementioned have now become household names and are on the lips of track and field fans worldwide, there are still quite a few that have come through the JTA/Sagicor Athletic Championships that will soon become household names themselves.
Shasha-Lee Forbes, while at Comfort Hall All-Age School, represented the parish of Manchester at these championships in 2009 and was a double gold medallist in the 100m and 200m in her final year. She went on to represent Holmwood Technical High School, and while under the guidance of current National coach Maurice Wilson, won a silver medal in the 200m in her senior year at the ISSA/Grace Kennedy Boys and Girls' Athletics Championships.
The memories of these championships have lived on for Forbes years later.
"I was a child then so winning was everything to me. Knowing that my mom was there to support me all the way made me work even harder. I hate losing, so even from then I tried my best to win and it was a great feeling to do that. It was a great opportunity to be able to participate at that meet."
Now a student at the G.C. Foster College, Forbes has continued to distinguish herself at the senior level.
She has represented Jamaica at the 2016 Olympic Games held in Rio de Janeiro, the 2017 World Relays in the Bahamas and the 2017 World Championships in London, England and she has won relay medals on each occasion. The 22-year-old also represented the country at the recently held Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in Australia.
Kristoff Darby is now a freshman at Johnson C. Smith University in the United States of America having earned a scholarship. He too is a product of the JTA/Sagicor Athletic Championships and represented the parish of Kingston while a student of the John Mills Junior High, All-Age and Infant school participating in the High Jump.
Darby went to Kingston College where he won a silver medal in the steeplechase at the ISSA/Grace Kennedy Boys and Girls Athletics Championship in his senior year. Darby has also represented Jamaica at the Carifta Games.
At 17 years old, Marie Forbes is one of Jamaica's emerging talents in the field. Specialising in the discus and shot put, the Vere Technical High student won the gold medal in the discus, while setting a new record and claimed the silver medal in the shot put at the 2018 staging of the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Athletics Championships. She also won back to back gold medals in discus at the Carifta Games in 2017 and 2018.
Forbes won a silver medal for St Catherine in the long jump at the JTA/Sagicor Athletic Championships while a student at St. Johns Primary, and also participated in the 400m.
"Having excelled at St. Johns and for St Catherine, the Sagicor championship provided the platform for me to compete against the best of my age group across the island in an atmosphere like girls champs, which boosted my confidence and prepared me mentally for the next level of competition" said Marie.
The 2018 JTA/Sagicor National Athletics Championships is set to take place at the National Stadium on May 25-26.