Camperdown Classic comes of age with 15th staging this weekend

Thursday, February 07, 2019

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The Camperdown Classic will celebrate its 15th staging inside the National Stadium this Saturday, just across from the Stadium East Field where the meet began in 2005.

The event, which is the brainchild of former Camperdown High Principal Cynthia Cooke and legendary track coach Glen Mills, was launched at the Spanish Court Hotel in Kingston on Monday.

The Classic has become a staple on the athletics calendar and serves more than just the high schools. A number of senior athletes, particularly from the Racers Track Club which is intrinsically linked to the Classic, have been known to open their season at the event, including the likes of the great Usain Bolt, World 100m champion Yohan Blake, Olympic medallist Warren Weir, Commonwealth Games 100m gold medallist Kemar Bailey-Cole and a host of other Jamaican star athletes.

While not naming the athletes who will be on show, the organisers suggested that the patrons will be treated to more “Classic” performances from seniors on Saturday.

The increasingly important 400m hurdles is among the events being offered along with 400m for clubs. The 800m, 1500m and the obvious 100m complete the flat events, while the 4x100m and the 4x400m relays will provide additional excitement for the patrons.

The high jump and long jump for classes one through to three are the only field events to be contested.

Mrs Cooke thanked perennial and now title sponsors GraceKennedy along with the other sponsors for their continued support in a time when competition for sponsorship dollars has increased significantly.

Prynce-David Royal, who spoke on behalf of GraceKennedy, reaffirmed the commitment of his company to support track and field and especially the Camperdown Classics which allows athletes to register qualifying time for the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships in March.

Elon Parkinson, public relations and communications manager at sponsors Digicel, spoke of the importance of development meets such as the Classic. Parkinson insisted that development meets are just as important as the grand show as they help tremendously with the preparation of the athletes over the weeks leading up to Champs.

Meanwhile, guest speaker Dr Dennis Howard, who is the general manager of radio services for the RJR/Gleaner Communications Group, said that it is time for sports to become an economic driver in the country in the same way that tourism does.

Citing a plethora of examples including the Super Bowl which took place on Sunday, Howard outlined the areas he thinks the country needs to address in order to make sport into a business on the island.

His suggestions can be broken down into three categories, big ticket items, areas related to education and partnerships with the private sector.

He suggested that the media should:

“Convince more of our successful athletes to repatriate their earnings home to Jamaica. Create more events of global significance to attract global media coverage (the Diamond League in Jamaica?), and continue to develop and expand on the team concept in sport. Expand and improve our infrastructure across the island, including bigger and better multi-sport stadiums.

With more and more tertiary institutions deepening their roles in sports education his suggestions in that area were:

“Expand the already growing list of sport related diploma and degree programmes offered at the tertiary level and invest in sports for our children at the school and community levels, not just football, netball and track & field, but all sports. We need sports auditoriums in high schools that will allow for the practising and playing of a wide range of sports,” he said.

In defining the role of the private sector, the media expert suggested that they dig in for the long haul.

“(We need to) convince the private sector of the value, to them, of investing in sport, not just with endorsement deals for the already successful stars, but with development funds for your potentially talented young athletes.”

The meet will begin at 8:15 am with the Class Two girls' 400m hurdles and finish under the lights at 7:10 pm with the senior men's 4x400m relays.

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