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Christoffe Bryan can jump

Published:Thursday | February 23, 2012 | 2:00 AM
Christoffe Bryan

Hubert Lawrence, Gleaner Writer

Contrary to what was written here last week, Christoffe Bryan can high jump at this year's World Junior Championships. Thankfully, there is a clause that will give him a chance, if he is selected, to jump with the best under-20 athletes in the world. According to the International Association of Athletics Federations, athletes aged 16 or 17 years on December 31, 2012 may compete, but only in a maximum of two individual events, plus one of the relays. If the two individual events are track events, only one of these may be longer than 200m.

Christoffe turns 16 in April this year.

Another tall Caribbean athlete, the leggy Bahamian Shaunae Miller, emerged through that clause and won the 400 metres at the 2010 World Juniors at age 16. Perhaps Christoffe will have similar good fortune.

That could start something new. Aside from Germaine Mason and 1958 Commonwealth champion Ernie Haisley, Jamaica hasn't had too many good high jumpers. As recounted last week, Mason is the best of the lot with Pan-Am gold and

fifth place in the World Championships in 2003, and World Indoor bronze in 2004.

On the female side, we've had Olympic finalists, and more recently, Shaunette Davidson and Peaches Roach were World Junior finalists in 2002. Best of all, Misha-Kaye Dacosta and Chanice Porter have silver and bronze medals from the World Youth Championships.

Bryan the brightest spark?

With time, Bryan, Ashani Wright of Jamaica College, David Hall of Kingston College, and Calabar's Demar Robinson may extend the portfolio opened by Haisley and broadened by Mason. Bryan is the youngest of them all and, following his Montego Bay clearance of 2.20 metres, he has the highest personal best.

Bryan and Hall were among interested spectators at the inaugural Jumps Only meet at Jamaica College last Friday evening. The horizontal jumps were contested on a new double-runaway facility first seen in January. The meet ended at approximately 9:30 p.m. at the conclusion of a floodlit pole vault.

The new facility is a JC initiative and its Boys' Championships rivals will have to respond to keep pace. If that happens, you can expect the athletes, and Jamaica, to benefit.

The new meet follows the ever more valuable series of throwing meets held at St Hugh's High. That series - the Big Shot, the King of the Ring and the Final Fling, which is part of the UWI Invitational - has been a launching pad for improvement. Just weeks ago, Traves Smikle zipped his discus far enough - 63.75 metres - to gain an Olympic 'B' qualifier.

On the day after the Jumps Only JC meet, Tara-Sue Barnett of Edwin Allen High launched her disc 50.93 metres at the second Ben Francis Invitational at Vere Technical. That's a national junior record.

Edwin Allen is so deep in the class 1 discus that it might be worth a trip to Frankfield to watch that event at the school's sports day. With only two spots available for Girls' Championships per school per event, Barnett, Danielle Thomas and 2010 Carifta champion Sasha-Gaye Marston all battle for selection.

With these wonderful developments at hand, our

throwers and jumpers could reach the podium as often as our sprinters at the 2016 Olympics. By then, Smikle, World Youth champions Federick Dacres and Chanice Porter, World University Games shot put winner Odayne Richards, and Pan-Am Junior shot champion Ashinia Miller could boost our medal-winning capability.

Our best medal hauls came at the 2008 Olympics - 11 medals with six gold, and at the 2009 World Championships - 13 with seven gold. On each occasion, our troops were magnificent in the sprints and hurdles.

However, if Jamaica is ever to top the medal tables at major global championships, we will need more than sprints and hurdles. In 2005, Trecia Smith won the World Championships triple jump. That's proof positive that Jamaicans can win field events at the highest level. Perhaps Smikle, Dacres, Porter and young Bryan will follow in her footsteps.

Hubert Lawrence has covered athletics since 1987.