Helps: I'm nervous, but staying positive

Friday, June 13, 2014

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SEVERAL athletes, mainly high jumper Christoff Bryan, hurdles sensation Jaheel Hyde, and sprinter Michael O'Hara, are favoured to secure their places to the 15th IAAF World Junior Championships in Oregon, USA, in July, via the National Junior Championships.

The likes of Jonielle Smith, Martin Manley and Shauna Helps are also expected to deliver in their respective events, and the Jamaica Observer takes a look at these three.

The Wolmerian pair of Smith and Helps have had phenomenal years at the ISSA Girls' Athletics Championships, winning gold medals on at least two stagings of the event.

Helps made her debut at Champs in 2009, when she finished fourth in the Class Four 100 metres, in 12.53 seconds. A year later, she took gold in the Class Four 100 metres and silver in the 200 metres, clocking 12.15 and 25.39 seconds, respectively. The year 2011 was another golden time for Helps, as she won the Class Three 100m in 11.80 seconds.

But it was 2012 that Helps displayed her exceptional talent, winning the Class Three sprint double in a record 11.50 seconds over 100 metres, and 24.21 seconds in the 200 metres.

Helps, who stands a great chance in making the cut for the World Juniors, said: "I'm honestly nervous, but still staying positive. I've put in the work and just hoping to reap the rewards. My chances are looking good if I just execute my race."

Helps is slated to compete in the Under-20 100 and 200 metres events.

Meanwhile, Smith has had an incredible 2014 season, but said: "I'm not 100 per cent fit, but I am going out there to do my best, and hopefully that will be enough."

At this year's staging of the ISSA Boys' and Girls' Championships, Smith walked away with a gold and silver medal. She finished second in the Class One 100 metres, setting a personal best of 11.32 seconds. She later returned and convincingly won gold in the 200 metres in 23.45 seconds.

Smith also left her mark on the track at the Carifta Games in Martinique, capturing three gold medals in the Under-20 100m, 200m and the 4x100 metres relay. She, too, is down to compete in the women's Under-20 100 and 200 this weekend.

Reigning World Youth 400 champion Martin Manley of St Jago High, told the Observer that he is fit and ready to go.

"Mr Hawthorne (coach) put in so much work to get me back in shape, so I'm going for a top-two finish in the Under-20 400m. I'm not going down without a fight and my return is near," noted Manley.

He was initially also listed for the Under-20 200 metres, but revealed he will only contest the 400 metres. The St Jago poster boy earned bragging rights in 2013, where he won the 400 metres at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Donetsk, Ukraine, in 45.89 seconds.

— Nicholas Martin




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