Men's final could be more competitive than Olympics - JAAA President Blake highlights class of Jamaican sprinters
Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter
This year's staging of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association/Supreme Ventures National Senior Championships is poised to be the most keenly contested ever, especially in the sprints, as the country is currently blessed with a plethora of world-class speedsters.
Based on the rigid competition anticipated at the championships - scheduled for June 28-July 1 at the National Stadium - in races such as the men's and women's 100 metres, there is the possibility of some crowd favourites and top-name athletes missing out on qualification.
"It is no secret that within our shores reside some of the fastest men and women in the world, and our senior men's final may well be more competitive than the Olympic final in London," president of the JAAA, Dr Warren Blake, highlighted while speaking at the press launch of the junior and senior championships at The Knutsford Court hotel yesterday.
"The interest in our trials will only be superseded by the Olympics," he added.
Blake once again made it unambiguously clear that where selection of athletes to represent the country at the 30th Olympics in London is concerned, there will be strict adherence to the selection policy.
The selection policy states: All athletes wishing to represent the country at the Olympics must compete at the National Championships, unless an exemption is granted by the JAAA. Exemptions will only be granted for illness and the athletes must thereafter prove that they are competitively fit where they can be selected. Outside of that, the athletes placing one to three in the individual events will be selected if they have attained the qualifying 'A' standard.
"The athletes will select themselves as, for the last eight years, we have had the same selection policy. It is a policy that is designed so that on the day in question, we will have the three best athletes in the flat events representing Jamaica," Blake said.
"We are prepared and we are ready, and I hope the athletes will also be ready come the day, because if they don't make it on the day, they won't be making it," he added.
Supreme Ventures Limited (SVL), for the ninth consecutive year, is the title sponsor of both the senior and junior championships, with the latter set for June 16-17, also at the National Stadium.
The overall sponsorship is to the tune of $10.72 million, with $1.72 million, which was handed over in March, being dedicated to the medical and nutritional support of the athletes. The other $9 million is intended to be used for the direct staging of the junior and senior trials.
"This is the best competition that we have as partners," president and CEO of SVL, Brian George, stated.
"It is the best for several reasons: one is the contribution that we think it makes to the Jamaican psyche and the pride that we all feel ... about the success of Jamaica on the international stage," he added.
SVL will also be donating 1,000 tickets for distribution among 20 schools for the second day of action on Friday, June 29. Friday will witness the launching of Jamaica 50 celebratory events during the opening ceremony, as well as one of the men's 100 metres, set for 9:25 p.m.
CAPTION: Brian George (left), president and chief executive officer, Supreme Ventures Limited, in discussion with Dr Warren Blake (right), president of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), and Natalie Neita-Headley, minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for sports, during the press conference to present the sponsorship cheque and outline plans for the hosting of the JAAA Supreme Ventures National Junior and Senior Athletics Championships, at The Knutsford Court hotel yesterday. - Ian Allen/Photographer