Ben Francis meet to honour Ethlyn Tate
Nearly $200,000 in cash prizes will be up for grabs at the seventh staging of the Ben Francis Invitational track and field meet, it was announced at a launch at Spanish Court Hotel in Kingston yesterday.
The meet, to be held at the Vere Technical High School in Hayes, Clarendon on Saturday, February 18, will have four championship events in which the winners will pocket $40,000 each.
The races are the female Class One 100m; the 400m for Class One males; the girls Class One 4x100m and 4x400m relays. In addition, the top coach will receive $30,000.
Tamara Williams-Gayle, head of the physical education department of Vere Technical High School, said since the inception in 2011, the Ben Francis meet has been catering for the development of a myriad young talent in their respective track and field events.
“Our commitment has grown along with the sport over the years. To this end, we have extended our hands in further contributing to the holistic development of our Jamaican athletes through the launch of this meet,” said Williams-Gayle.
Interim Vere Technical principal, Rosemarie Logan, gave a powerful and rousing speech in the presence of the school’s chairman, Baron Stewart, that must have advanced her chances of a permanent appointment.
“Athletics have been dubbed the mother of all sports. Globally there is a strong and unique passion for athletics, and we see that passion when we watch the World and Olympic Games, the Diamond League, the Boys’ and Girls’ Athletics Championships the Carifta Games, and the list goes on.
“As a nation we have an insatiable appetite for the sport and people know Vere Technical High School as a school that strives for academic excellence on both fronts, and we have been blessed with some of the greatest athletic champions of all time,” Logan noted.
“We love to celebrate excellence and it is in this vein that year’s meet is being dubbed the ‘Meet of Champions’ celebrating excellence,” she added.
Meanwhile, former Vere Technical great and Olympian, Ethlyn Tate, who represented Jamaica at the 1984 Los Angeles and 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, will be this year’s honoree.
Tate went unbeaten at Champs over both the 100m and 200m while at Vere and was compared to the legendary Donald Quarrie. She was nicknamed “Wasp”, “Lightning” and “Electric” for her outstanding performances and was the MVP at the 1984 Girls Championship.
“Let me thank God for giving me this talent which enabled me to get an education. I am very happy that the school saw it fit to honour me this year,” said Tate, whose speech seemed to have lasted as quickly as she covered the sprints in her heyday.
One of Vere’s most recent Olympian, triple jumper Shanieka Thomas-Ricketts, was in attendance and she was gifted a basket by student Shamoy Thompson for her gold medal-winning performance at the NACAC Games in 2015, where she also made Jamaica’s team to the World Championships.
— Howard Walker