Praise all round for Champs, but...
This newspaper joins all well-thinking Jamaicans in hailing Calabar High of Red Hills Road in Kingston and Edwin Allen High of Frankfield in the hills of northern Clarendon for their triumphant campaign at last week’s ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys’ and Girls’ Athletics Championships.
Obviously, the two schools deserve high praise for having nurtured the athletic talent which brought them so much glory over the five days of competition at what was the 107th edition of Champs.
But, of course, winning Champs requires far more than just talent and proper execution on the day. Organisation, planning, old-fashioned hard work, commitment, and much sacrifice by student athletes, school leaders, coaches, medics, and other backroom staff all go into ensuring success at the individual and team levels.
Of course, misfortune and good fortune will also intervene. Kingston College, for instance, may well argue that the injury to their champion sprinter Mr Jhevaughn Matherson made a huge difference, since, in the end, boys’ champions Calabar High only won by three points.
But that’s life. Human beings must take the rough with the smooth and be prepared for any eventuality.
In that respect we are heartened by Mr Matherson’s pledge to bounce back from bitter disappointment.
Said he: "Things don’t always go according to plan, but it is always for a reason… and I will come back 10 times stronger."
We look forward to his comeback for the greater glory of Jamaica’s track athletics.
Edwin Allen High’s Miss Kevona Davis experienced both bitter disappointment and heady personal triumph within the space of 24 hours on the final two days of Champs. She was reduced to tears and great despair after being disqualified for false-starting in the 100m final on Friday night. But showing the resolve of a true champion, Miss Davis returned on Saturday to smash the 200m Class Three record, running 23.07 seconds.
We are told that Miss Davis’s run was one of 28 new records set at the 2017 Champs, reflecting the continued growth of Jamaican athletics at age-group level.
All those in schools and track and field support groups with interest and pride in guiding and nurturing young talent deserve the highest commendation.
Yet again the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) provided an athletics carnival rich in talent, drama and entertainment.
We note that concerns remain about ticketing arrangements — particularly on the final day of Champs.
Back in 2015, when there were serious ticketing and ambush marketing issues, this newspaper suggested that ISSA consider hiring a tried and proven commercial events management team for Boys’ and Girls’ Championships.
As we said back then, "such a move would have to be properly thought through with careful analysis of the pros and cons". At bottom line, Champs is not just a school event, but a huge commercial activity. It needs to be treated as such.