Sat | Apr 20, 2019

Exciting Gibson McCook Relays expected

Published:Saturday | February 23, 2019 | 12:21 AM
Jamaica College’s Chislon Gordon (second right) awaits the baton exchange from his teammate before going on to anchor his team to a win in the Class One Boys 4x100m relay at last year’s Gibson McCook Relays at the National Stadium.
Yohan Blake anchoring the Racers team to victory in the Men’s Club 4x100 metres final at the Gibson McCook Relays in 2017 at the National Stadium.
Members of the Edwin Allen team celebrate after winning the Girls Open 4x800 metres relay at the Gibson McCook Relays held at the National Stadium last February.
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Today’s 43rd staging of the Gibson McCook Relays, which gets under way at the National Stadium, is sure to provide a clearer picture of what is to come as the island’s top high school, institution, and club teams match strides at one of the world’s grandest relay carnivals.

The event promises, as always, to deliver sizzling action from start to finish, with the preliminary round of the high school boys 4x400 metres scheduled to get things started at 9:00 a.m.

Also high on the radar is the expected seasonal debut of 2011 World Champion over 100m Yohan Blake, with fans curious to see how he is coming along since parting company with long-time coach Glen Mills.

Chairman of the Organising Committee Professor Rainford Wilks told The Gleaner that all is set for today’s event while dispelling fears surrounding the availability of Stadium East, which was closed to the public recently for renovation work on the track.

“One of our greatest fears was whether the Stadium East would have been ready for the warm-up area, and as I had said, the meet is too large for any ad hoc solutions, so we were definitely banking on the promises, which came from as high up as the minister of sports, and on Tuesday, we were reassured that it would have been ready, and all the other functional areas – medical, anti-doping, security, presentation and opening ceremony – are in place,” said Wilks.

With a month to go before the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships, fans should see a continuation of what has been a very competitive season so far among high school teams with some intense competition expected across the board.

Teams will have added motivation as some 15 championship events will take place, with the winners receiving commemorative watches, while record breakers in these events will get $75,000. Additionally, the recipients of the most outstanding performance on the day award will walk away with $150,000 along with the Neville ‘Teddy’ McCook Trophy.

Championship events are the – 4x100m Under-19 Boys, 4x100m Under-16 Boys , 4x200m Under-19 Boys, 4x 200m Under-16 Boys, Sprint Medley Boys, 4x400m Open Boys, 4x800m Open Boys, 400m Girls Under-19, 4x100m Girls Under-17, 4x200m Girls Open, Sprint Medley Girls, 4x400m Girls Open, 4x800m Girls, and 4x400m Institution Men.

After missing last year’s event, Calabar and St Elizabeth Technical are back and the Red Hills Road-based team will want to stamp their authority, following a commanding start to the season.

They are expected to get stiff competition from main rivals, Kingston College and Jamaica College, with all three expected to get their time under the lights.

The Boys 4x800m relay will take centre stage, with defending champions Kingston College determined to make it back-to-back wins after a leading time of 7:38.64 seconds, done at the Milo Western Relays.

However, Calabar, with three members from their last year’s record-breaking Penn Relay team, and Jamaica College, with their impressive 800m depth this season, could relegate the North Street team to third here.

COMING FOR REVENGE

Among the females, after dominating at the Milo Western Relays, where they won five events, including all the 4x100m relays, Edwin Allen will be bent on continuing this trend. It should be a different, though, as Holmwood Technical, who finished second behind Edwin Allen on those occasions, will be coming for revenge, especially in Class One.

Edwin Allen’s dream teams in Class Two, led by Kevona Davis and their Class Three, which is led by the Clayton twins, Tia and Tina, should put their names in the record books.

There will also be strong ­competition among the clubs and institutions teams.

On the men’s side, Racers, led by Yohan Blake, who is set for his first competitive appearance on the track this season, will be hoping for a strong start but will have the likes of Sprintec, MVP, and UTech to contend with.

Sprintec, MVP, G.C. Foster, and a new-look Swept Track Club are the main players among the females.

Among the special guests will be Victor López, president of the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Athletics Association.

López will give an address and will present NACAC Awards recipients Julian Robinson (Coach of the Year), Fedrick Dacres (Athlete of the year), and Briana Williams (Junior Female Athlete of the Year) with their awards.