Sport

UTech Classic promises to be a cracker — Francis

BY HOWARD WALKER Observer senior reporter walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, April 12, 2014    

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THE seventh staging of the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech) Invitational Track and Field Classic promises to be a "cracker", meet director Paul Francis told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

With arguably the greatest female sprinter of all time, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, withdrawing following instructions from her medical team to take two weeks' rest, Francis believes enough quality will be on show.

"All I can say for sure at this point, it's all systems go and the meet appearing at this point to be something of a cracker, something nice to see. It appears to be a good look," said Francis.

With just a few overseas participants, Francis explains that the quality of talent locally is enough to pull in the crowd and provide world-class performances.

"Just a few overseas entrants, we weren't really focused on that this year. The depth of quality available locally is of such that when put together perfectly can make an awesome meet that people from far out in the world will want to come here to see. We have it here, so we using it," he emphasised.

The meet will be at the National Stadium starting at 4:00 pm with only the Grandstand that will be used and by 8:30 pm, patrons should be streaming home after witnessing the last event, which is the 4x400m Open.

"The UTech Classic has become popular mainly because of this type of schedule. Track and field is a sport like any other where performances count for everything. Therefore, the philosophy of UTech planning committee is to ensure that ideal conditions are available for the athletes to compete.

"As a result, similar to the wheel as invented by the Europeans, the normal three-to four-hour short meet best conditions for the athletes to maximise their performances," Francis said.

The UTech Classic will be a finals-only format. Participants will include top colleges, high, preparatory and primary schools, alongside UTech/MVP athletes.

GC Foster College, Sprintec, Cameron Blazers and Racers Track Club are also confirmed with the leading high schools. MVP athletes confirmed to compete are Kaliese Spencer, Nesta Carter and Stephanie-Ann McPherson.

Ramona Modeste, a member of Trinidad and Tobago's 4x400m CAC Games gold medal team, will also be competing.

Last year Yohan Blake got injured at this meet and it could not be confirmed if he or Usain Bolt will be participating

this year.

Last week Bolt indicated on his Facebook page that he ran a personal best in the 400m in training, but he would not reveal the time. However, he said fans will see that performance at his next meet.

The Opening Ceremony is scheduled for 4:00 - 4:15 pm. Minister without portfolio with responsibility for sports, Natalie Neita Headley, is expected to declare the meet open.

The men's shot put and women's long jump will get the on-field activities going, while the women's 4x100m open kicks off the track event at 4:45 pm.

Admission is $1,000.

Professor Errol Morrison will be this year's patron. He was previously pro vice chancellor and dean, School for graduate Studies & Research, at the University of the West Indies. He also served as Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Natural Products Institute, UWI; advisor to the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO); chairman of the North American region of the International Diabetes Federation.

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