1,500m added to Classics
Ryon Jones, Gleaner Writer
In an effort to improve Jamaica's middle-distance running, organisers of this year's Grace, Western Union Youngster Goldsmith Hurdles and Field Events Classics has added the 1,500 metres to the list of events to be contested.
Christopher Ferguson, chairman of the organising committee, made the announcement yesterday at a press conference, which was held at GraceKennedy head office on Harbour Street.
"The only change regarding the schedule is the 1,500 metres," said Ferguson. "ISSA has seen it fit to introduce the class three 1,500 metres this year so hence we have decided to bring on board all 1,500 metres, so all classes of 1,500 (metres) will be run at this meet."
GraceKenndy and Western Union have sponsored this year's event to the tune of $1.1 million in cash and $200,000 in kind, which is expected to result in a better-run meet.
"With the cash injection, we now find it far easier to get things done," said Ferguson. "The fact that it is inside the stadium this year will make the logistics of running the meet far better than in previous years. So what we will have is a far better meet," he added.
The event, which is in its 13th year, will be held on February 6 at the National Stadium and is expected to attract 38 schools and more than 2,500 athletes, which is an improvement on last year's 2,000 athletes from 30 schools. It is expected to commence at 8:30 a.m. with the running of the 400 metres hurdles and finish with the running of the 100 metres at roughly 9 p.m.
President of the Jamaica Amateur Athletics Association (JAAA), Howard Aris, views the various development meets being held across the island as being critical in the athletes' preparations.
"They are a critical component of the developmental programme because what it does is it affords the coaches and athletes an opportunity to assess themselves along their way in terms of where they are," said Aris.
"These meets allow them (athletes) to run distances that are not their normal distances for strengthening purposes, but also to see whether or not they are weak in any particular component of their preparations," he added.
"Competition is a critical component of any programme of development in any sport, so too in track and field and therefore to have the competitive aspect of it is also great," he concluded.