Powell, Simpson confirmed for National Senior Champs
DESPITE the expected absence of Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake from the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) Supreme Ventures National Senior Championships, there will be lots of excitement with the participation of Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson added to the over 300 athletes down to compete.
Bolt, the world's greatest sprinter of all time, and Blake, the heir apparent to his throne, have not entered for the championships set for June 26-29 that will be used to select Jamaica's teams to the Commonwealth Games in Scotland in July.
The Championships will also be used to select teams for the PanAmerican Senior Championships set for Canada between July 31 and August 2, and the NACAC Under-23 Championships in Mexico between August 8 and 10.
Bolt apparently has not regained full fitness from his injury and has not requested an exemption, although he still has until June 26 to do so, which would make him eligible for selection if he misses the Championships.
Blake's name was also not among the list hours before the deadline closed yesterday, but the JAAA is still hopeful and they have also confirmed that both Powell and Simpson, who had a stay of execution by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on their suspension handed down on Wednesday.
Dr Warren Blake, JAAA president, said despite the absence of Bolt and possibly Blake, Jamaica will be sending a powerful team to the Commonwealth Games.
"Over 300 of our senior athletes have applied for entry and this includes Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson," said Dr Blake at the launch of the Supreme Ventures-sponsored National Athletics Championship.
"Most of our senior athletes have applied and, in fact, the only two notable names that have not applied are Usain Bolt, who we know has been suffering with injury problems, and Yohan Blake, and we are expecting by the end of today, Yohan Blake will be entered and we are hopeful for that," Dr Blake added.
"I expect that our team will continue to do well as we have always been doing at the Commonwealth Games and I suspect that we will be taking one of our strongest teams in a long while and this is underlined by the fact that most of our senior athletes have indicated a willingness, which is not usually the case for Commonwealth Games."
Meanwhile, Carlene Edwards, Supreme Ventures Sponsorship and Public Relations Manager, said this is the 11th year of sponsorship for the championships and her organisation will be there for the long-term.
"Our partnership started way back in 2004 long before Jamaica became so dominant at the world stage and when you see everybody jumping up and down now...We have been there from the get go and will be there for a very long time to come," she noted.
Supreme Ventures has put their money where their mouth is with a whopping $10m sponsorship package for this year and are hoping to at least extend it until 2017.
"We pride ourselves as a company with the sport of track and field. We have seen what it could have been from the get go and we are still here," she added.
The four-day National Senior Championships or Trials as it is popularly called, will see the top three in the track events being selected along with a "strong" field event aggregation for the Commonwealth Games.
Action starts on Thursday with the heats of the men's 100m at 10.00 am in which former world record holder Asafa Powell will grace the stadium turf for the first time since his failed drug test as last year's Senior Championships. The final is set for Friday at 9:25 pm.
The men's javelin throw will be the first final of the championships and that is scheduled for 5:30 pm on Thursday with the men's 200m closing the championship on Sunday at 7:30 pm.
Ticket sales will open on Tuesday, June 24 and it will cost patrons $3,000 to purchase season tickets for the four days for certain sections of the grandstand area.
On Thursday fans will be asked to pay $300 to access the grandstand and the bleachers area will be opened on Friday and it will cost $500 until Sunday. Prices will range from $1,200 to $1,800 for certain sections of the grandstand from Friday to Sunday.