Gibson McCook Relays targets international flavour

BY SHERDON COWAN Observer staff reporter cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, January 27, 2017

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Not many changes can be expected for this year’s 41st staging of the Gibson McCook Relays, as organisers remain optimistic about attaining some international flavour for the meet.


The massive relay carnival, which has honed its credentials as one of the biggest relay meets in the Americas and second only to the Penn Relays, is scheduled for February 25, at the National Stadium.


The pre-meet Howard Aris Memorial Lecture that was postponed last year due to the General Elections could also be back on the cards. That is scheduled for the Wednesday or Thursday prior to the relays, it was announced at the event’s launch at the Knutsford Court Hotel yesterday.


One change this year will be an increase in the admissions, with the grand stand finish line tickets now costing patrons $3,000 and $2,000 for the rest of the grand stand area. Tickets for the bleachers area will cost $500.


Professor Rainford Wilks, chairman of the organising committee, noted that the prices are "reasonable and justified" due to their no entrance fee policy for athletes to compete at the meet.


Wilks added that his grouping remains committed to the continued improvement of the Gibson McCook Relays, which was started in 1976, and as such, opened invitations for regional and overseas participation.


He remains optimistic that at least two teams from the United States, as well as teams from the Cayman Islands, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago will be on show.


"We can’t add new events because of the time constraints, we have a full day and so there is not a lot of room for improving on the number of events. We can improve on quality and we can always improve on the smoothness in the running of the meet," Wilks noted.


"We feel that we do a good job so far, but the public has always clamoured for some overseas participation and we are turning our eyes to the Caribbean. We are diligently trying to bring our Caribbean neighbours to the meet and we feel that we would only see a small impact this year, but we expect that to be a growth area for the meet," he added.


With some 4,000 athletes expected to participate in this year’s event and thousands more fans expected to attend, some sponsors have their tails in the air that they will get value for money after drawing favourably to attach their brands to the 13 marquee events down to be contested.


Wisynco, the leading beverage manufacturer, got arguably the best draw as a sponsor for the Gibson McCook Relays when they secured the 4X100m Institution Men’s Championship race, an event which could pit a number of the country’s best athletes and their respective clubs against each other.


Jermaine Brown, sponsorship and events manager of Wisynco, is anticipating another quality event which will be boosted by their on-the-ground activities.


"We have been a major sponsor of the Gibson McCook Relays for the past three years and it goes along with our commitment to sports and to improving the lives of Jamaicans through our products," he said.


"As exclusive beverage sponsors for the event, obviously the more than 3,000 athletes will be refreshed by Powerade and Wata and our activations will be far and wide, and you can look out for surprises from the brands from the different activations," he added.


Andrew Brown, sponsorship manager of Digicel, though not selecting a championship event, underlined their commitment to building athletes from "grassroots to greatness" and rightfully selected the 4X100m relays for Under-15 High school girls.


"We are definitely excited to be on board this year and we are excited to see what the results are going to be like with all the great athletes performing and the young athletes that are looking to become the next extraordinary Usain Bolt or Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce," he said.


Another major sponsor, Puma, selected one championship event in the boys’ Class One 4X200m relay, as well as the boys’ Class Three event.


Jamaica National selected the usually hot 4x100m High School Boys’ Class One Championship with Dairy Industries securing the 4x100m High School Girls’ Class One events.


The 4x400m High School Boys Open went to MJD Pharmaceuticals and the girls equivalent once again went to CIBC First Caribbean International Bank, while Grace Foods also retained sponsorship of the 4x400m Institution Men’s Championship.


Tastee Limited and PA Benjamin selected the Boys’ and Girls’ High School 4x800m Open, respectively, while Caribbean Dreams selected the Boys’ Class Two, 4x100m Championship. The Girls’ Class Two, 4x100m Championship has not yet been assigned a sponsor.

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