Sport

Grand Prix a stepping stone to the big hurrah — coach

Saturday, March 17, 2018

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According to assistant coach Omar Hawes, Calabar's stellar performance at the Digicel Grand Prix finale recently was basically a training day.

If that is anything to go by then the Red Hills Road team's 28th hold on the Mortimer Geddes trophy at Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/ GraceKennedy Boys' and Girls' Athletic Championships, is a foregone conclusion.

Calabar claimed their first hold on the lucrative Digicel Grand Prix crown in a dominant fashion, after narrowly being edged out by a mere 1.5 points by St Jago last year.

They threw down the gauntlet this time around, tallying a whopping 146 points, with St Jago left some distance back on 74 points. Kingston College (54.5), Jamaica College (42) and Petersfield (39) were the other teams in the top five.

“It was basically a training day, but because of the quality athletes that we have and the preparation so far, it would have seemed to all and sundry that it was a statement, but it wasn't. It was just the quality that is there and the training regime that we put in that has been working so far,” he told the Jamaica Observer shortly after hoisting the symbolic $1-million cheque with his team at the GC Foster Classic at the National Stadium last Saturday.

“It was a strategic move for the entire season; we selected the meets that we would allow the youngsters to participate in… this one was particularly one of the meets that we really wanted to put some effort in, along with the boys' championships. As such we tried not to overwork the youngsters and give them as much rest as possible,” he added.

Now with that $1-million prize towards their sports programme now in the bag, all roads will now lead to the March 20-24 spectacle where Calabar are overwhelmingly favoured to achieve a seventh-consecutive victory.

Perception is that the number seven has a unique characteristic representing an extraordinary feat, and is considered lucky by many people and Hawes is certainly one of those individuals.

“We are definitely going for the seven as we hope to continue the dominance. We hope that all will be well on the day of the championship and we just want to stay humble and focused so that this (win) can happen again when it matters most.

“This (Grand Prix win) is a stepping stone, it is a platform that we want to push forward on, and if all goes well in terms of injuries and injury management, I don't see why we shouldn't be champions again,” he declared.

With the likes of captain, the outstanding Christopher Taylor, Evaldo Whitehorn, Anthony Carpenter, Tyreke Wilson, Michael Stephens and Dejour Russell, leading the charge from the front, Hawes believes these athletes represent the right formula for Calabar to stamp their class.

Malik James King, middle-distance runner Kevroy Venson and Kimar Farquharson are among the other quality athletes that Calabar have in their ranks.

“It is just a combination of efforts, the support from the management team, along with a great training regime and quality athletes, who basically do a lot of the work because they want to be champions.

“We have about 70 athletes with quality all around, there is no one in particular to put a finger on, but it is one of the best put-together team for Calabar in the last 20 years. So we want to make sure that we use it to our advantage and as I said stay humble and focus and get the job done,” Hawes ended.

— Sherdon Cowan

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