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Star cast to light up UTech Classics

Published:Saturday | April 16, 2011 | 12:00 AM

Andre Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter

Everything is in place for today's fourth staging of the University of Technology (UTech) Track and Field Classics, with a host of big-name athletes down to strut their stuff at the National Stadium.

MVP Track Club luminaries Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Asafa Powell, Brigitte Foster-Hylton, Nesta Carter, Michael Frater and Melaine Walker, along with Racers standouts Yohan Blake, Daniel Bailey and Rosemarie Whyte, are among the big names down to compete at the meet.

Several athletes from the University of Connecticut in the United States, Barbados and Cuba are also expected to compete at the meet today, which will see the participation of no fewer than 400 athletes and 200 volunteers and officials.

Anthony Davis, UTech's director of sport and chief organiser of the meet, expressed satisfaction with the calibre of athletes that have been drawn together and advised that all is set for a successful meet.

"There is no doubt that the various colleges will be sending very strong teams, also remember that this is a meet where we invite the best of the high-school athletes, so we will be seeing their best possible teams as they prepare for the Penn Relays," Davis said.

"We are expecting about 400 athletes, including all the MVP athletes, and those representing UTech. A large contingent from Racers will also be competing, as well as all the other local clubs because it is a senior meet that caters to the clubs and we are expecting everyone to send their best teams."

Davis added: "All the months of planning have ended and all that is left is for us to execute those plans. We are comfortable with our preparations so far and we are anticipating a successful meet."

Besides the anticipated MVP vs Racers 4x100m relays, the men's 200m, which according to the start list features 100m specialists Powell, Blake, Carter and Bailey, is expected to generate some interesting competition.

There is, however, some doubt over whether former 100m world record holder, Powell, will actually face the starter in this event, with source suggesting he will only feature in the 4x100m relay.

The low-key men's 100m should be a showdown between national champion Oshane Bailey and the emerging talent of Racers, new boy and former Old Harbour High star Kemar Bailey-Cole.

The female version is, how-ever, expected to generate much more interest, with Olympic silver medallist Simpson down to face her teammates - Anneisha McLaughlin, who is continuing her speed work, as well as Carrie Russell and Trish Ann Hawthorne, a senior at the University of Connecticut.

One-lap hurdler Kaliese Spencer will do battle with Olympic finalist Whyte and Davita Prendergast in the flat 400m, while Foster-Hylton returns to the site of her horrific knee injury, which she suffered last year in wet conditions, as she is set to compete in the 100m hurdles.

Three new events will be featured at the Classic this year: the 1500m, the female high jump and the male shot put.

Physically challenged athletes from the Mona Rehabilitation Centre will also be on show, an inclusion that Davis feels very strongly about.

energetic bunch

"We have also invited our friends from the Mona Rehab Centre, so we will also have events for the wheelchair athletes, men and women's 100m," Davis said. "It's important to us, we know we have to provide a service for the community and we try to do so in everything that we do, and we look forward to having them as they are an energetic bunch."

The meet is set to start at 4:30 p.m., with the final event scheduled to run off at 8:15 p.m. There will also be a 3 p.m pre-meet cheerleading competition.

Tickets for the grandstand will cost $700, while bleachers seats will go for $100.