BARCELONA, Spain — Jamaica's medal hunt at the 14th IAAF World Junior Championships gets underway this morning in the impressive Montjuic Olympic Stadium in the Catalan capital.
Twenty years ago this month, since Jamaica won three medals at the 1992 Olympics Games in this stadium — silver for Winthrop Graham in the Men's 400m hurdles and silver and bronze, respectively, for Juliet Cuthbert and Merlene Ottey in the Women's 200m — 11 young Jamaicans will try to equal Jamaica's best ever haul of 11 medal, at home in Kingston.
Three finals will be contested today, but none will involve Jamaicans — the Women's 3,000m, Women's shot put and Men's 10,000m.
The first round of the Men's and Women's 100m and the Men's discus will highlight Jamaica's participation today.
The event was launched yesterday with IAAF president Lamine Diack and officials of the Local Organising Committee expecting an outstanding meet.
Two records have already been broken, both before the first starting pistol sounds.
The 180 countries represent the most ever, beating the 176 in 2006 in China and the 1,742 athletes entered (964 men and 778 women) surpass the 1,408 in Poland in 2008.
The Jamaicans, who arrived in Spain on Friday, are upbeat going into competition. With no injuries to report, assistant coach Michael Carr yesterday told reporters that, "So far, the preparation has been good and while conditions are not like Jamaica, the athletes have to make the adjustments."
With the temperatures hovering near 80 degrees, Carr said the athletes were "feeling very confident of doing very well and the kids are in good nick".
He predicted that at least the two entrants in the Men's 100m, Odean Skeen and Jazeel Murphy, "should make it to the finals" come today.
Despite the presence of Great Britain's Adam Gemili, who comes in as the favourite after clocking 10.08 seconds and making his country's Olympic team, Skeen — who ran a PR 10.33 in March is not ruling out his chances of extending the string of wins to three straight after Dexter Lee in 2008 and 2010.
"My confidence is up," Skeen said yesterday. "We come to the World Junior Championships to win and history will repeat itself and I'll add another world title to my name," said the Youth Olympic champion.
Skeen who ran on the team that took silver in the 4x10 relay two years ago, said he was over the early season niggles and is ready to give "110 per cent".
The Edwin Allen pair of Shawnette Lewin and Trials winner Monique Spencer will compete in the Women's 100m heats.
Fedric Dacres will feel pressured to deliver after he won the discus at the World Youth Championships last year in Lille, France.
The Calabar student who threw a PR 61.55 metres, is fourth in the world entering today's contest and with his personal coach Julian Robinson on hand, should advance to Thursday's final.
The Women's 800m heats will see the first Jamaican taking the track at 10:40 am (3:40 am Jamaica) with Semoya Campbell and Desreen Montague starting the hunt.
Campbell, who won the 800m/1500m double at 'Champs' and at CARIFTA, has a personal best 2:03.07, but said she can go lower than if she gets competition.
Stephan Fennel and Yannick Hart will contest the first round of the Men's 110 hurdles. The final is set for Thursday.
Also on today is the first round of the Men's 400m where Javon Francis and Lennox Williams will compete.
Meanwhile, shot putter Ashinia Miller and hurdler Janieve Russell have been named team captains. They were chosen at a team meeting here at the weekend.