Clarke downplays Calabar's 'favourites' tag
Twenty-two time champions, Calabar High, will start tomorrow's Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Athletics Championships as slim favourites, a title that head coach Michael Clarke was keen to play down when contacted yesterday.
Clarke, whose team lost last year's championships at the death, after finishing behind eventual winners Wolmer's Boys in the meet's last event, the 4x400m relay, are expected in some circles to marginally get the better of Gibson Relays stars Jamaica College (JC), Kingston College (KC) and the defending champions this time around.
However, Clarke claimed to be a bit surprised by the 'favourites' tag, given his team's lukewarm showing on the circuit this season.
"I'm a bit surprised that we are being seen as one of the favourites, especially since our performance at Gibson Relays did not indicate that. JC I think would be more fit for the tag as favourites based on their Gibson performance. I don't think we had any spectacular performances throughout the season, but if we are favourites, if the pundits say so then so be it," Clarke said with a wry chuckle.
"I must say though that the confidence level is high, there is high anticipation and great expectancies within our team.
"Our chances are just as good as anybody else who realistically can achieve the number one spot," he added, before pointing out what he thinks will lead the eventual victors to safety.
"From my experience, any school that can have a block of points that is highly secure and then build a team around that will have a good chance. Wolmer's built a block of points around their jumps, so I think they too have a chance. JC have points scattered all over, which is also key. KC too have the same kind of strategy. We have a block of points and we will be building our campaign around that," Clarke noted.
The highly respected coach singled out his throwing unit, which is marshalled by Julian Robinson, as the linchpins to his team's chances at Champs, but was also quick to underline the need for a complete team effort.
"Definitely our throwers could be considered as our major players because they are all national record holders or representatives. However, I think we have persons who will emerge into athletes with a high influence on the outcome of the Champs," Clarke added.
- André Lowe