Jamaica Under-18 Invitational begins today

Senior staff reporter

Saturday, June 30, 2018

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The inaugural two-day Jamaica Under-18 Invitational Athletics Meet involving five countries, starts today inside the National Stadium.

Jamaica, Canada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines and the Cayman Islands will match strides starting at 5:00 pm. Admission will be free.

The event became necessary after the North American, Central American and the Caribbean Athletics Association (NACAC) U18 Championships slated for Nicaragua between June 21 and 23 was cancelled because of the political unrest in that Central American country.

The concept was initiated by Rob Guy, CEO of Athletics Canada, who reached out to his Jamaican counterpart, Dr Warren Blake, about a bilateral competition which was confirmed recently.

“If you noticed, it was never put on the JAAA athletics calendar; it was really an impromptu meet,” said Dr Blake yesterday at a hastily convened press conference.

“At the last World Youth competition, the IAAF had announced that they are phasing out the World Youth and have put the responsibility for hosting that to the regional federations,” Dr Blake noted.

“Now NACAC had planned an Under-18 competition but with the civil disturbance going on in Nicaragua the meet was cancelled,” he added.

“We reached out to the rest of NACAC and asked if they would want to send teams to this meet and we got positive responses from a number of countries.

“Rob and I will be putting it to NACAC, the possibility of a calendar event around this time of the year and for Jamaica to become the home of a regional Under-18 competition. This is something we are thinking about to get the blessing of NACAC,” Dr Blake explained.

Meanwhile, Guy, who will be stepping down in 2019 as CEO of Athletics Canada after eight years, and named President of the Athletics Canada Foundation (ACF) as part of a succession plan, said it would be great exposure for his young athletes.

“Obviously, Jamaica has a rich history in track and field and it's a great opportunity for our young athletes to come and for many of them, this is their first time internationally and for some, it's their first time on a plane,” said Guy.

“So it will be a great experience for them to compete against athletes from other countries to see how they do things. We are happy to be here, happy to compete and see a little bit of what happens in Jamaica, as well,” he added.

Approximately 45 Canadian athletes arrived in the island on Thursday while the other teams were expected last evening. However, a little doubt surrounds the participation of Cayman Islands as they were feverishly trying to secure visas to Jamaica.

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