Sport

'PRIX' APPROVED

Racers Grand Prix promises fireworks in absence of Bolt

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, April 20, 2018

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Despite the absence of the legendary Usain Bolt, who has retired, organisers of the JN/Racers Grand Prix is promising another spectacular show at this year's third staging scheduled for June 9.

With a number of young athletes coming to the fore on the international stage after bidding farewell to the legend last year, this year's staging of the world-class event has been fittingly dubbed 'Stars: The Next Generation'.

This as a number of the world's finest young local and international talents will converge for the pulsating three-hour show, scheduled to commence at 6:00 pm, on what is expected to be another memorable night inside the National Stadium.

Glen Mills, president of Racers Track Club, in revealing a partial list of the confirmed athletes thus far, pointed out that it will include world record holders and Olympic champions, which is in keeping with the Grand Prix's high standard.

“Our first two stagings have been tremendous and far outreached our expectations, and so we have had to request from every continent to participate in this year's staging.

“The requests are so overwhelming, but we have to operate based on our budget, taking people from as far as Asia, Africa and Australia which is extremely expensive. But we promise you that we will have a very pulsating and exciting three hours of competition this year where we will have some significant duels with top-class persons as years before,” Mills said in his address at a publicity launch for the international track and field meet at Jamaica Pegasus hotel yesterday.

A total of 13 international events — six on the men's side and seven for the women — will be contested to be complemented by four Olympic Development events. The women will compete in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 400m hurdles, 800m as well as the triple jump and shot put.

The men will lock horns in the 100m, 110m hurdles, 400m, 400m hurdles, as well as the discus and high jump.

“One of the main purpose and feature of having a meet of this nature is to bring to our shores world-class athletes competing against our world-class athletes, and at the same time to allow the second-tier athletes and young athletes to witness live action.

“We have found that it is one thing to see it on TV, but to be there in the stadium to see your own Jamaican athletes competing against world achievers and so on, it stimulates these (younger) athletes a lot because they are actually a part of the action. It also provides our athletes who are not going to get invitations to Diamond League a chance to compete with high-level athletes who themselves are Diamond Leaguers,” Mills explained.

Fresh from competition at the 21st Commonwealth Games in Australia recently, the Jamaicans are set to renew rivalries with their international counterparts.

On the women's side, Jamaica's silver medallist Shericka Jackson will again square off against The Bahamas' Shaunae Miller-Uibo in the 200m, with American Kyra Jefferson, who has a personal best of 22.02 seconds, seeking to spoil the party.

The 100m will see Christania Williams and Remona Burchell going up against Americans Torie Bowie and Candice Hill, who is the first high school athlete to dip below the 11-second barrier. Trinidadian Kelly-Ann Baptiste is also expected to occupy a line in the event.

Anastasia Leroy and Stephenie Ann McPherson will face strong opposition from the American pair of Francena McCorory and Natasha Hastings in the 400m, while Janieve Russell, Kaliese Spencer, Ristananna Tracey and Rhonda Whyte, will line up in the 400m hurdles alongside American Olympians Cassandra Tate and Ashley Spencer.

Jamaican shot-putter Danniel Thomas-Dodd, coming off a gold medal-winning Commonwealth Games performance, is set to go up against Olympic gold medalist Michelle Carter in the shot put.

In the 800m, Natoya Goule of Jamaica, fresh from her first international medal with a run under one minute and 59 seconds, will be seeking respect from Americans Ajee Wilson and Charlene Lipsey — both of whom have run under 1:58.00.

On the men's side, Yohan Blake and Englishman Zharnel Hughes, both seeking redemption for their Commonwealth Games misfortunes, will face a stern test from Great Britain's Miguel Francis as well as Jamaicans Kemar Bailey-Cole and Julian Forte.

In the 400m, it will be at least a three-way battle between American Fred Kerley, Jamaican Javon Francis and Karabo Sibanda of Botswana.

Just as pulsating should be the 110m hurdles. Here Jamaicans Ronald Levy and Hansle Parchment will do battle with Americans Jarret Eaton and Aries Merritt.

Meanwhile, Mills also revealed that one of their main features for this year will be the use of electronic display boards courtesy of World Class Events. The boards are expected to give patrons first-hand information of every throw, height and every time instantaneously as it is done.

Other athletes from Jamaican clubs — including Racers, MVP, Akan, Sprintec and Cameron Blazers — will also participate.

Online sales begin on May 1 at racersgrandprix.com and mysticonline.com at a cost of $6,000 for grand stand finish line; $3,000 regular grand stand and $1,000 bleachers. Physical tickets will be available in outlets the week of the meet.

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