Champs 2021 starts Tuesday with several changes due to COVID-19
The most anticipated high school track and field competition, the ISSA / GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Track and Field Championships, commonly referred to as “ Champs, ” begins Tuesday with a plethora of changes to keep athletes and officials safe as the country continues to grapple with the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Champs 2021 will take place at the National Stadium without spectators from Tuesday May 11 to Saturday May 15. The action will take place between 9:00 a.m. and 5:45 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:40 p.m. Thursday 9:00 a.m. to 4:55 p.m. Friday and 10:00 a.m. to 3:05 p.m. Saturday, in accordance with the island-wide curfew imposed by the government to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The 2021 staging marks a return of the five-day show as the annual championships were canceled last year amid the global coronavirus outbreak and there were fears this year’s staging could be not cleared by the government due to the increase in positive cases earlier this year.
Among the plethora of changes to meet the government’s COVID-19 protocols is the fact that the ISSA has capped the number of athletes competing. There is also a change in the qualification system.
Only 970 athletes are eligible to compete this year, a massive reduction to just under 3,000 over the years. “We entered 68 male teams totaling 506 athletes, 61 female teams totaling 464 athletes. The total number of athletes will be 970 in 80 schools, ”said Champs organizing committee chair Richard Thompson.
In 2019, when Kingston College (KC) clinched a shattering victory over Calabar High to claim the men’s title by 82.5 points and Edwin Allen High survived a hefty challenge from Hydel High throughout the final day before securing a seven-point victory for the women’s title, 2,700 athletes competed in the championships.
In the sprint events – 100m, 200m and 400m – the top two from each regional competition and the next top 24 from events organized by the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) will compete.
For the 800m and hurdles events, the country’s 24 best athletes will compete. For the distance events – 1500m (boys and girls), 2000m steeplechase (boys and girls), 3000m for girls and 5000m for boys – the top 15 in the country will compete. For the field events, the top 12 will compete. All field events will be straight finals.
For the relays, the ISSA selected the top 16 teams from the JAAA qualifying competitions to compete. The ISSA has accepted all registrations for the medley relays and the multi-events (heptathlon and decathlon).
There was also a change to the schedule with more finals on opening day compared to previous years. There will be 16 finals on opening day Tuesday, five on Wednesday, 17 on Thursday, 11 on Friday and 36 on Saturday.
Based on the performances of the various JAAA qualifying competitions, Edwin Allen looks set to easily fend off the two-pronged attack of Hydel High and St Jago High for their sixth consecutive victory and seventh overall, while the title of the boys seems to be a direct fight. between 32 times KC champion and 21 times Jamaica College (JC) champion. However, although very weak in Class 3, Calabar High, who saw his seven-year winning streak halted by KC in 2019, cannot be underestimated.
KC is expected to start as a favorite by retaining the boys’ title at the 2021 Digicel / Anthrick Corporate Zone Development meet – the first of four regional meetings – on March 20 at the National Stadium.
KC accumulated 480.50 points in 45 finals for his third consecutive victory, 16 points ahead of JC who finished with 464.50 points. Calabar High (378), Wolmer’s Boys (167) and Excelsior High (109.50) round out the top five.
KC, however, lost their impressive Class 2 sprinter Yury Lawrence to injury and his absence will be a big setback as JC’s Hector Benjamin will be the overwhelming favorite.
Lawrence and Benjamin both clocked 10.74 seconds this season, the fastest over the distance. Lawrence clocked his time of 10.74 on day one of the season on February 27 at the GC Foster Invitational, while Benjamin tied that time at JC on April 27.
JC will also have Christopher Scott who will be a force to be reckoned with once he gets fit for the race. Scott, the Class 3 record holder with 10.69 seconds, has only competed once this season, clocking 10.88, which is the sixth fastest. Orlando Wint (10.79) from St Elizabeth Technical High School and Tajai Duffus (10.84) from St Jago High are very dangerous.
JC’s Javari Thomas (10.36) and KC’s Tajae Francis (10.39) are the top two in the 100m boys class one, while Calabar’s Jahrod Laird (11.25) has the fastest qualifying time in class three with the pair of TahJ-Marks White from KC (11.31) and Nicardo Johnson (11.33) not far behind.
The 100m events are scheduled to begin on Wednesday with the preliminary round. The semi-finals and finals will take place on Thursday.
The boys’ first final – the 200m steeplechase open – is scheduled for 9:15 am on Tuesday’s opening day and KC is set to get their campaign off to a good start thanks to Kirk Dawkins, who has the two fastest times this season.
Dawkins opened his season with an impressive 6: 06.59 at the National Stadium on March 6, a time that is ahead of the 6: 07.22 victory time set by Rivaldo Marshall of Calabar High at the 2019 Champs. Marshall a the third fastest qualifying time of 6: 10.93, which was recorded by finishing second behind Dawkins 6: 07.94 at the company zone development meeting.
KC is expected to score a lot in the steeplechase as they also have Ugandan athlete Crispus Atukwaste., Arymanya Rodgers’ cousin – the Champs record holder in the event. Atukwaste arrives with 6: 15.74, recorded at the Enterprise Zone Development Meeting.
Five more men’s finals are scheduled for the day – the Open Javelin Throw, Class 1 Long Jump, Class 3 100m Hurdles, Class 2 110m Hurdles and Class 1 110m Hurdles.
KC’s Akeel Hanchard is the big favorite for the open javelin throw, while Calabar’s Jordan Turner (7.82m) and JC’s Apalos Edwards (7.72m) are the top contenders in the Class 1 long jump.
The KCs are very strong in the 110m hurdles class 1 and 100m hurdles class 3 events.
Vashaun Vascianna, who transferred from St Jago High School to KC, is the seed in the 110m Class 1 hurdles with 13.23 seconds ahead of JC’s Neil Matthew Sutherland at 13.53 seconds. Vascianna broke the Class Two Champs record with 13.26 seconds in 2019 while attending St Jago.
The KC duo of Daniel Clarke (13.46) and Kahiem Carby (13.51) are the first two seeds in the 100m hurdles class 3.
Allem Pinto of STETHS is the seed of the Class Two 110m hurdles with 13.74 seconds. KC’s Amontae Wray (13.88) and teammate Shamer Blake (13.89) are expected to be in the count.
Frankfield-based Edwin Allen easily won the girls’ title at the 2021 Central Track and Field Championships, the second of four regional competitions, on April 22 at GC Foster College in Spanish Town. They collected 414 points to secure a comfortable 71.5 point victory over St Jago High, who was second with 342.50 points. Hydel High had to settle for third place with 340 points. The winning margin suggests that Edwin Allen will be hard to deny.
There will be 10 women’s finals on the day marked by the 100m hurdles classes in classes 1 and 2.
Oneka Wilson of Hydel High, the Central Champs winner with 13.52 seconds, will be tough to beat in the Class 1 100m hurdles while Alexis James (13.37) of Peterfield High is very keen to beat the Hydel pair. of Kerrica Hill (13.62) and Shania Myers (13.78) in class two.
Camoy Binger of St Jago High should easily win the 80m hurdles in Class 3 after clocking 11.10 seconds at Central Champs, while Tiana Marshall of Wolmer’s Girls and Tihanna Reid of Hydel High are the top two seeds in class 4.
Rushell Johnson looks a step above the field in the 2000m steeplechase and will easily provide St Jago High with a great start to the championship. Johnson is the seed at 7: 20.63, well ahead of Sanyae Gibson, second seed Edwin Allen High, at 7: 28.10.
Other women’s finals scheduled for the day are the Class 1 High Jump, Class 3 Long Jump, Class 3 Discus Throw, Class 2 Shot Put and Class 3 High Jump.
Edwin Allen High star sprinter Tina Clayton will be in action that day as she takes part in the preliminary round of the 200m class three. However, her twin sister Tia, who was injured at Central Champs, is only entered for the 100m.