Four medals for the taking ... on paper
If the Jamaican athletics team to the third Youth Olympic Games reports in good shape, four medals could be within its grasp. The best hopes for glory in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the host city of the Games, rest with Antonio Watson, Ackera Nugent, Vashon Vascianna and Michali Everett.
However, the Games begin tomorrow which is long after Jamaican juniors hit peak form. If they can produce their best, they could match the four-medal haul garnered in 2014 at the second staging of the Youth Olympics.
Watson, World Under-18 400 winner last year, is the fastest entrant in the 200 metres at 20.90 seconds. The Petersfield High standout must be wary of Gulayman Touray of Gambia who has run 20.97 and Tazana Kamanga of Denmark who clocked 20.99 seconds on August 12.
The fastest boy in the world at 20.69 seconds, American Joe Fahnbulleh, is absent.
Nugent of Excelsior High, second fastest in the world over the 100 metre hurdles at 13.18 seconds, will go head to head with global leader Sophia White of Australia who has run the event in 13.16 seconds. Notably, Poland's Pia Skrzyzowska clocked 13.35 seconds weeks ago on September 2.
Everett, a speed merchant from Jamaica College, is the second fastest entrant in the 100 metres, at 10.42 seconds, with only South Africa's Luke Davids ahead of him at 10.31 seconds. World leading Briton Sam Bennett and his 13.19 second best aren't in Buenos Aires so that helps St Jago's Vascianna in the 110 metre hurdles though he still must overcome French youngster Kenny Fletcher and Swiss Nick Ruegg.
Their best times this year - 13.27 seconds for Fletcher and 13.47 seconds for Ruegg compare well to 13.35 by Vascianna, the Champs and Carifta champion, and makes them dangerous.
There are other Jamaicans who could see action in the finals. Evaldo Whitehorne is the sixth fastest entrant in the 400 metres and his Calabar teammate Kimar Farquharson is sixth fastest in the 800m field at 1 minute 49.66 seconds. The same goes for KC's Shantamoi Brown in the 400 metre hurdles.
Danielle Deer of Holmwood, the Class Two 400m winner at Boys and Girls' Championships, has to better her best of 53.06 seconds as there are three competitors with sub-53 times in her event.
Shaquille Lowe, Apalos Edwards and Shauntae Foreman may find the going difficult. Lowe, the third Kingston College athlete in the team, is immersed in a fine long jump field led by Cuba's Lester Lescay who has spanned 8.07 metres. Edwards, who won the Class Two triple jump for Jamaica College at Champs, is the tenth best entrant at the Games and Foreman, brilliant for Excelsior, faces the top three high jumpers in this age group in the world.
Four years ago in Nanjing, China, Jaheel Hyde, Martin Manley and Natalliah Whyte won gold medals in the 110 metre hurdles, the 400 metres and the 200 metres respectively, with Hyde breaking the 13- second barrier with a world youth best of 12.96. The other medal was taken by triple jumper O'brien Wasome.