Jamaica to host youth invitational this weekend
Canada, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Vincent and the Grenadines will be here this weekend to compete in the first Jamaica Under-18 Invitational. So says Warren Blake, president of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association. Dr Blake says the new meet is being staged to give athletes from the region a chance to qualify for the Youth Olympic Games.
The invitational will start at 5 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday at the National Stadium and will feature competition in the 100m, 400m, 1500m and 3000m; the 100, 110 and 400 metres hurdles; and the full range of jumps and throws.
Canada will field 42 athletes.
According to Blake, the invitational fills a gap left by the cancellation of qualifying meets elsewhere in the region.
"They had a Youth Olympic qualifier, which had been moved from Chile to Nicaragua because the federation in Chile had problems with the government and the government disbanded the federation and took them over, and you know that's a no-no", he said, referring to International Association of Athletics Federation policy against government interference.
"So, the meet was pulled from Chile", he related, "and it was sent to Nicaragua, and then Nicaragua unfortunately had civil unrest, so the meet was cancelled."
Following contact from the Canadian federation, Jamaica agreed to fill the gap. In addition, the JAAA president explained, "It's a good idea also to try and get the whole idea of international meets being held in Jamaica."
The Youth Olympic Games are being staged in Argentina from October 6 to 18.
The University of the West Indies will serve as the athletes' village.
Blake also indicated that his federation has its eye on hosting other international competitions.
"We're thinking about the World Relays," he offered, "and it's something I think Jamaica can, in fact, host with just minor improvements to the National Stadium".
Those relays have been hosted by The Bahamas since inception in 2014.