Sun | Jan 23, 2022

Laurie Foster | Minister on a mission

Published:Wednesday | May 8, 2019 | 12:00 AM

The nation’s minister of sport, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, through the searching eyes of Foster’s Fairplay, has been displaying a new and most pleasing ‘pep in her step’ as she continues to handle this portfolio with admirable diligence and sustained decorum. This is marked by her Government’s unceasing willingness to come to the rescue of deserving teams who wear the black, green and gold and who struggle to source the necessary funds to take care of travelling and other preparatory expenses to proceed to elite competitions for which their skills and devotion to hard work have qualified them. These recipients of national goodwill include the netballers for their world championships and other elite events, which need to be accessed in their determined quest for world number-one status.

Then there were the female footballers before, during and after their qualification to the FIFA Women’s World Cup finals in a few weeks’ time in France. Most recently came the announcement that the goodly minister, seemingly smarting at the Government’s inability to afford the usual funding of the Jamaica International Invitational Meet (JIIM), leading to this year’s cancellation, was preparing to execute on another pledge. Financial support for the staging of the event in 2020 was in the offing, thus averting further ‘shame face’ in the eyes of the world of track and field.

The more Minister Grange faced the cameras to tell the nation of all these acts of goodwill, the broader the smile she was displaying to the public. She was bouncing like a prize fighter who had downed her opponent and was awaiting the end of the referee’s 10 count and the obligatory raising of the hand-claiming the win. Can it get any better? Will that smile get even broader? The answer from Foster’s Fairplay is a resounding, “Yes, it can!”

BOLDON’S PREDICTION

The world junior record for the women’s 4x100m relay stands at 43.27, set by a German quartet of 18 and 19 year olds at the 2017 European Championships for that age group held in Grossetto, Italy. Former global sprint icon, now coach, Trinidad & Tobago national Ato Boldon issued a prediction a few weeks ago. In his camp, is the sensational 17-year-old 2018 World Juniors double sprint champion, Briana Williams. She boasts personal bests, set last year, of 11.13 and 22.50 seconds.

Williams’ focus for this year, endorsed fully by Boldon, is to run at the Senior Trials and qualify for one or both of the short sprints at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Doha from late September to early October.

Boldon has made what is believed to be an accurate call. This was after the Edwin Allen High School supremo, Kevona Davis, charged to 11.19 and 23.21 seconds at Champs 2019 and Ashanti Moore out of Hydel High surprised with a 11.17 personal best to take the Class One 100m title. Davis is in recovery mode and taking it gingerly in 2019 after posting her current best efforts of 11.15 and 22.72 in 2018. What Boldon said is that the three youngsters – Williams, Davis and Moore – plus one other (no name given) could form a crack team to eclipse the sprint relay world mark as mentioned earlier.

The ideal forum would be the Pan American Junior Championships (Under-20 is the updated title) scheduled for San Jose, Costa Rica, July 19-21.

GRANT’S PERFORMANCE

What has since happened, and the reason Minister Grange might be forced to give an even more expansive smile, is another positive in the junior track and field program. Former Alpha Academy athlete Kiara Grant, who turns 19 come October, stormed to a 100m national junior record-breaking time of 11.11 seconds at her university’s conference outdoor meet on Saturday last. This broke the former mark of 11.12 held by outstanding double Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown. That record had stood for 19 years.

Now, Boldon’s prediction is even more relevant as that “one other” now has a name. Although it will require the honing of this awesome talent spread, by virtue of four athletes who are at 11.1 with two and a half months to go for the Pan Am event, the record of 43.27 seems a minor incline to traverse. After all, the Edwin Allen High School with Davis and three 14-year-olds ran 43.62 at the recent Penn Relays with two horrible changes, both involving the fleet-footed Davis. Needless to say, if they can get it right, the record can be achieved, and then some.

Foster’s Fairplay is beseeching the governing body, the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association, to contact Kiara Grant, if not already done, and congratulate her on her brilliant achievement. Next should come an invitation, as well as encouragement, to be at the Junior Trials and all that is built into that in order to facilitate her participation.

The suggestion to Minister Grange at this stage should be to keep a watching brief on the situation as help might be needed to make all this happen, albeit a lot less than given in other areas, and to prepare to give us that broad smile again.

For feedback, email lauriefoster2012@gmail.com.