National Championships get under way today

National Championships get under way today

Observer writer

Thursday, June 21, 2018

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The first combined Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association National Championships in more than a decade will get under way today at the National Stadium with the first round of the men's 100m event.

Despite there being no global championships, Olympic Games or World Championships scheduled, the competition is still expected to be tough as hundreds of athletes will be seeking places on a number of teams through three age groups.

Two finals will be contested this afternoon, the senior men's javelin and the men's triple jump, while there will be heats in the 400m hurdles for both men and women, the first round of the women's 100m, and the quarter-finals of the men's 100m in the seniors' category.

There will also be the first rounds of the 100m and 400m for the Under-18 and Under-20 male and females.

The championships will run through to Sunday afternoon and athletes will be seeking to be selected to five teams that will represent the island in five championships between July and late September.

It will be a busy summer, despite this being called an 'off year', as Jamaica will send teams to the IAAF Athletics World Cup in London, July 14-15, the IAAF World Under-20 championships in Tampere, Finland, July 10-15, the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Barranquilla, Colombia, August 1-3, the NACAC Senior Games in Toronto, Canada, August 10-12, and the Youth Olympic Games to be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in late September.

With a number of top talents staying away, and others choosing to go on the various European circuits, expectations are for a number of athletes, both local and overseas-based, many who took part in the just- concluded American collegiate season are still expected to battle for places on teams.

While there were no heat sheets available up to late yesterday, the list of entries for both the senior and junior sections serves up a number of mouth-watering clashes, especially in the sprints.

Reining Olympic champion Elaine Thompson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce have been named in the senior women's 100m that also sees Joniel Smith and Gayon Evans.

The men's 100m will have Yohan Blake, who was listed as 'unattached', US collegians Waseem Williams and Raheem Chambers, Julian Forte, Jullane Walker, and Jevaughn Minzie.

One of the most highly anticipated clashes in the junior section will be in the female sprints where Florida-based Briana Williams, who ran an age group World Best 11.13 seconds this year, and Edwin Allen's IAAF World Youth Championships bronze medallist Kevona Davis, who has a personal best 11.16 seconds set at the ISSA Champs, are down to compete.

Davis got the better of Williams twice at last year's Junior Trials and they will be going head to head for the first time since then.

Williams, who was the Austin Sealey Award winner at the Carifta Games after she won the Under-18 sprint double, has had a number of races against senior women, one in Boston and was third in the 100m at the JN Racers Grand Prix.

At least one place on the team to the IAAF Athletics World Cup will be decided, in the men's triple jump, where if Texas Tech University's Odaine Lewis can replicate his recent form he should be selected for his first senior national team.

The former Cornwall College athlete, who won the Carifta Under-20 and CAC Juniors championship in 2014 when he also competed at the IAAF World Championships, was second in the NCAA Division One championships, two weeks ago, with a personal best 16.73m, the longest triple jump outdoors by a Jamaican in almost two years.

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