André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
The hunt for places on Jamaica's team to the IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Moscow will start in earnest at the National Stadium today, with the staging of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA)/Supreme Ventures Limited National Senior Championships.
World record-holder and Olympic champion, Usain Bolt, will headline the performers as he is set to make his first appearance at the championships at 7:15 p.m., when the heats of the men's 100m is slated to start.
With defending World Champion Yohan Blake, a non-factor due to his wildcard and subsequent withdrawal from the meet due to injury, Bolt, despite having a less-than-dominating start to the season, is expected to take this event without much fuss.
Former world record-holder Asafa Powell looks to have recovered well enough from his injury problems to at least get through the rounds, with seasoned competitor Nesta Carter and the improving Kemar Bailey-Cole also expected to challenge for the remaining two spots. Jamaica will have four representatives in Moscow in the 100m, with Blake to be joined by the top-three finishers.
Whispers are that Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, despite having an automatic 100m berth to the World Championships, is considering competing in the event today, as well as the 200m, which starts for women at the semi-final stage on Saturday at 8:25 p.m., according to the latest schedule.
Besides world-leader Fraser-Pryce (10.93) and Veronica Campbell-Brown (11.01) - who has been suspended from competition pending the outcome of her doping violation - Carrie Russell is the fastest Jamaican so far this year with a time of 11.07. Kerron Stewart (11.10), Schillonie Calvert (11.17), Sheri-Ann Brooks (11.22) and Samantha Henry-Robinson look in the best shape to challenge for positions.
There should also be keen competition in the men's and women's 400m.
Only five women have gone faster than young MVP standout Stephenie McPherson, who has recorded a time of 50.43 in this her first season at this level. The 25-year-old got the better of the experienced Novlene Williams-Mills at the May 4 Jamaica Invitational, but the veteran bounced back to finish ahead of the youngster at the Prefontaine Classic on June 1. It should be another interesting meeting when they cross paths.
These two are expected to dominate this event with Patricia Hall, who has also been busy this season, looking like a favourite for the third qualifying spot. Olympic silver medallist Shericka Williams and Olympians Rosemarie Whyte and Christine Day have all struggled to make a positive impression so far this season.
No Jamaican male has achieved the A qualifying standard of 45.28 to date, with Dane Hyatt being the best of a bad bunch of quarter-milers with a mark of 45.41; good enough for the B standard of 45.60.
Several others, including schoolboys Jhevaughn Francis and Javere Bell, are also in the B standard range. Athletes have until July 29 to achieve the A standard.
Several other events will be contested in the field today such as the women's long jump and discus, as well as the men's triple jump.