Juniors hunt Worlds glory
Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter
Skeen keen on defending Jamaica's 100m crown
Today's opening day of the 14th IAAF World Junior Championships being staged in Barcelona, Spain, will see the country's duo of Odean Skeen and Jazeel Murphy commence their quest to defend the nation's hold on the men's 100 metres crown for the third consecutive year.
Dexter Lee copped the marquee event at both the 2008 and 2010 stagings and Skeen and Murphy will be seeking to maintain the country's dominance in male sprinting, as the heats in the event will be contested today.
"History will repeat itself because Dexter Lee won the World Championships back to back, and I am trying to add another title to my name," a confident Skeen, who won the 100m at the inaugural 2010 Youth Olympic Games, said.
"I have to be very confident, and my confidence is up going into the 100 metres," he added.
The Wolmer's Boys' School student has a personal best (PB) of 10.33 seconds, which he clocked in April at the University of Technology Track and Field Classics.
Murphy, meanwhile, will be aiming to get back to his PB of 10.27 seconds, which was achieved last year. This season, his fastest time over the distance stands at 10.39 seconds, recorded in March.
Neither of the two athletes' times is ranked in the top 10 for the year, with Great Britain's Adam Gemili setting the pace with a world-leading 10.08 seconds.
"I know Jamaicans are doing great in the sprints, so I am aware of my competitors, but I try not to focus on them too much," Gemili shared in response to a question at a press conference put on by the IAAF yesterday.
"I am in good shape, and if, I can go out and execute my race I am comfortable that I will do well," he added.
The female equivalent will feature 2011 World Youth Championships bronze medallist, Shawnette Lewin, who has a PB of 11.52 seconds coming into the event. She will be joined by Edwin Allen schoolmate Monique Spencer, whose PB is 11.46 seconds.
Coach Michael Carr is looking for the 100m athletes to progress to the finals and then take things from there.
"Since we are here, we have been doing some workouts, and right now the kids are in very good nick and we should get into the finals," Carr stated.
"The conditions here, of course, are not like home, but they (the athletes) have to make the necessary adjustments and the kids are adjusting right now," he added.
Last year's IAAF World Youth Championships semi-finalist Simoya Campbell and Desreen Montique will line up in the heats of the 800 metres. Campbell has a PB of 2:03.07, which she ran at the Carifta trials in March, while Montique's PB stands at 2:03.18, also run back in March.
The 2010 World Junior Cham-pionships semi-finalist, Stefan Fennell, along with Yaniek Hart, will contest the heats of the men's 110 metres hurdles.
Fennell has a PB of 13.62 seconds, which he posted earlier this month to cop silver at the Central American and Caribbean Junior Championships.
Hart's PB of 13.75 seconds was registered in the same event, as he claimed bronze.
Lennox Williams will take his PB of 47.09 seconds - which he managed in March to win at Carifta trials - into the heats of the 400 metres. Williams failed to progress past the opening heats at the 2011 IAAF World Youth Championships and 2010 Youth Olympics Games and he will no doubt be keen to avoid early elimination once again.
Francis' PB of 47.16 seconds was set in June, as he triumphed at the National Junior Trials.
Jamaica's best ever showing at a World Junior Championships was in 2002 when the team consisting of Usain Bolt won 11 medals (two gold, five silver and four bronze).
The team might not be able to reach such heights this year, but it will certainly look to better the three medals (one gold, one silver and one bronze) won at the 2010 edition staged in Moncton, Canada.
Jamaicans' schedule for today
3:40 a.m.: Women's 800m heats (Simoya Campbell and Desreen Montique)
4:35 a.m.: Men's 110m hurdles heats (Yanick Hart and Stefan Fennell)
5:35 a.m.: Men's 100m heats (Odean Skeen and Jazeel Murphy)
11:05 a.m.: Men's 400m heats (Javon Francis and Lennox Williams)
12:05 p.m.: Women's 100m heats (Monique Spencer and Shawnette Lewin)