The thrill of human speed
Class One sprints expected to be best in years
THE 100m at any track and field championship is the blue ribbon event and the winner is normally crowned the fastest person around and with it a superstar status.
Jamaica's National Hero Norman Manley of Jamaica College (JC), was deemed to be Champs' first star, winning five events in 1911 and six the following year.
Manley's Class One 100 yards record of 10.0 seconds done in 1911, stood for 41 years. His son, Douglas Manley, running for Munro College, equalled it in 1941 before Frank Hall of JC ran an amazing 9.9 seconds in 1953.
Since then a number of persons have etched their names on the coveted list and this year, Yohan Blake's record of 10.21 seconds done in 2007, could be in danger.
An intense battle is expected between Calabar's Michael O'Hara, KC's Zharnel Hughes of Anguilla, Jevaughn Minzie of Bog Walk High, Raheem Robinson of Wolmer's and the dark horse Kevaughn Rattray of St Jago, if fully fit. What a race that is expected to be, it should be hot.
O'Hara has sent down a strong warning, logging 10.29 seconds at the Camperdown Classic in February and said he was just 80 per cent fit.
Hughes can boast of victories over Jamaica's Jazeel Murphy and Jevaughn Minzie at both the Carifta Games and the Pan Am Juniors last year. He ran 10.36 seconds at the Western Milo Relays and looked easy.
Minzie has been running a lot of 400m working on his strength and is looking stronger and his coach is predicting that he will lower the Champs record to 10.1 seconds. He won the Carifta Under-20 Trials in 10.40 and did 10.31 at the Douglas Forrest Meet.
Rattray, the former Class Three 100 champion, has not showed much this season, but his camp is quietly confident and it is rumoured that he has consistently ran in the 10.2s during training. Raheem Chambers of St Jago ran a blistering 10.28 at the Carifta Trials in the Under-18s and he is not considered the fastest at the Monk Street-based school. That title is held by Rattray, so fans can expect a warm race come Champs.
While Robinson, who ran 10.48 at the Carifta Trials, said he is on course to go much faster, and based on last year's trend where he ran 10.6 at the trial then did 10.4 at Champs, he should take off two tenths off his time to be in the 10.2 region come Friday.
But if fans expect the 100m to be hot, what can they say about the 200m. It is shaping up to be one of, if not, the hottest 200m race ever run at Champs.
When you add Calabar's 2013 World Championship 4x400m silver medallist , Javon Francis to that of O'Hara, Hughes, Minzie, and possibly Martin Manley, the 400m World Youth Champion, that race will be worth going miles to see come Saturday.
Hughes, who is under the guidance of Glen Mills at Racers, has laid down the marker with a 20.8 seconds clocking while O'Hara outlasted Francis at the Douglas Forrest Meet in 21.29 to 21.33 seconds, while Minzie with 22.08 will be there in the thick of things.
Last year, O'Hara sizzled to 20.89 seconds in erasing the Class Two record and will go faster having run 20.64 to win at the World Youth Championships last year.
Barring injuries, all these athletes are expected to go faster. Hughes, has been tipped to run low 20s, O'Hara is a class act and will go faster, while Francis has heart and guts and have showed that he has tremendous speed to be right there with the best coming into the straight.
Once he is within striking distance, Francis, who is also expected to break Usain Bolt's 400m record if tested, is expected to outlast both O'Hara and Hughes to the line.