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Hubert Lawrence | 800m on the rise

Published:Thursday | March 21, 2019 | 12:00 AM

Most people can’t wait to watch the Class One boys’ 800 metres next week at the biggest high-school athletics meet in the world, the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships. Kimar Farquharson put the race on the radar with his sensation 1.47.9 second relay leg for Calabar at the Gibson McCook Relays. Thanks to Tyrese Taylor, everybody’s watching now.

After the Gibson McCook relays, Farquharson added a fast win at the Corporate Area Championship to his portfolio.

In 1.49.77 seconds, he proved he was for real. In interviews, he revealed his real target – the 1.49 second barrier. His ambition is understandable, but after Saturday’s G.C. Foster Classic, he shares the spotlight with Taylor.

We knew the 2018 Class Two champion was good and was confirmed at Central Championships to win in 1.51.62 seconds.

On Saturday, he moved the goalposts to the centre circle.

He took his rivals out of their comfort zone by blasting the first lap in 52.9 seconds, a tick off the time for his 400 metre split at Central Champs.

He showed his strength there by winning the 1,500 as well and that kept him going.

The result for the Enid Bennett High School student-athlete was staggering – 1.48.85 seconds. The dusty old Boys Championships record is still 1.48.84 seconds by Vere’s Sherwin Burgess from 1987, but the best news is that Taylor had company from Tyrese Reid most of the way.

Reid, the Western Championship winner from Spot Valley High, gritted out a fine time of 1.49.30s.

Add Farquharson and now Jamaica has three boys under 1.50 in one season.

Dugion Blackman, whose Gibson McCook anchor leg was 1.49.9 for Jamaica College, and Tarees Rhoden, the versatile Kingston College athlete who was second two years ago to Farquharson in Class Two, could be next.

The key to Taylor’s speed is the fast-paced first lap. However, in Jamaica, we often treat the 800 metre and 1,500 metres as long-distance races, best run by metronomes who churn out lap after tedious lap to outlast the competition.

The last two to break 1.50 at Champs – Clevon Clair of Jamaica College and Mike Williams of St Jago – did 4x400 metre relay duty if required.

So did Burgess, his cousin Kenroy Levy, and Levy’s STETHS’ colleague, Fitzroy Morrison, who went under 1.50s in that sensational 1987 Champs Class One race. So did Olympic medallists Arthur Wint and George Kerr and 1995 World Indoor Champion Clive Terrelonge.

So did Seymour Newman, who has held the national men’s record of 1.45.20s since 1977.

The two-lap event isn’t for plodders.

Fans can lick their lips. Not only will next week’s Boys’ and Girls’ Championships Class One race be special, but more speed will likely unfold in the years to come.

The evidence is in noteworthy Class Two and Class Three results and in the likely presence of Taylor, Reid, Farquharson and Rhoden in local races next season.

Outstanding seniors

Reid and Blackman are outgoing seniors and must press the accelerator at college, but all the others and J’Voughn Blake, JC’s fine Class Two athlete, will match spikes at the schoolboy level next year.

By then, the Burgess mark may well have been overtaken.

If that happens, this fast crew of young men can set sights on a new target: the national junior record of 1.46.5 seconds set by Neville Myton 55 years ago in 1964. It simply has got to go.

Hubert Lawrence made notes at trackside when Burgess set his record.