Sports

Vere sound early warning

Clarendon school looking to dominate throws in Class Two

BY DWAYNE RICHARDS
Observer writer

Wednesday, January 17, 2018



Dotted across Jamaica's track and field history are women who have excelled on the local and international stage during different era.

When one thinks of Vere Technical High School, names like Merlene Ottey, the Turner sisters — Inez and Evette — as well as the ubiquitous Veronica Campbell Brown readily spring to mind.

All these women excelled on the track for Jamaica, leaving everlasting memories and they evoke a myriad emotions when their names are mentioned.

The irrepressible Campbell-Brown, who is a world and Olympic champion, is still competing and has the Commonwealth Games, which will be held later this year in Australia, firmly on her radar.

But as a new generation comes to the fore, Vere Tech is not only being mentioned on the track; the field events have been bringing through a series of promising athletes, and if their coach Tamara Williams-Gayle is to be believed, this year could be a year of dominance at Champs (Boys and Girls Athletics Championships), at least in Class Two.

At the weekend, Vere Technical swept the top four spots in the Class Two Girls discus, but still left the Douglas Forrest Invitational upset this after missing out on the chance to compete in the shot put as well. Such is the focus and determination being displayed by these young ladies from as early as January.

The disappointment of the girls served to excite Williams-Gayle, who believes that her athletes are in the right place both mentally and physically at the moment.

“Shatoy Chambers, one of my Class Three athletes from last year who finished fourth in the discus at Champs, has now joined the pool of athletes in Class Two and threw 45.19 at the Jamaica College Invitational. She is now in the picture,” Williams-Gayle explained.

“Marie Forbes has been winning. She won two years consecutively; she won in her second year in Class Three, she won her first year in Class Two, and she is hoping to repeat for 2018 Champs,” she continued.

“Natsuya Chance is stronger in the shot put this year and I see her as at least a finalist at Champs this year. Natsuya was a finalist in the discus along with Marie last year,” Williams-Gayle said.

The areas of discus and shot put are where Vere has been excelling, but there is another frontier that is now an area of interest.

“Taleen Gordon finished sixth place in the shot put Class Two finals last year. This year I am hoping that Taleen qualifies for the javelin because she has been throwing a lot; she was throwing 30m last year and she has improved since then. She has also improved in the discus and the shot put, so I am hoping for good things,” the coach expressed.

While Williams-Gayle is hoping that all her athletes show up and do well at Champs 2018, Marie Forbes is the jewel in the Vere Technical crown, and the coach is looking forward to seeing the 16-year-old rule the Caribbean like she did last year.

Her opening performance of the season at the Pure Water/JC/R Danny Williams Track & Field Development Meet was something special, as she broke the meet record for both the discus and shot put, throwing distances of 47.65m and 14.65m, respectively.

The 47.65m throw was also more than a metre further than the current Champs record of 46.64m held by Olympian Gleneve Grange.

“Marie is definitely the leader so far right across the Caribbean [as] she has the best distance so far. She is a workhorse, she works a lot and what she is actually accomplishing right now is not a surprise to me.

“She has a lot more in her, so I am very hopeful that she can actually go for the record at Champs and be the number one discus thrower for Class Two,” noted Williams-Gayle.

Despite the promise shown and with the expectations of the young thrower already high, Forbes is not yet the finished article, which may be scary news for the competition.

“Her technique is not the best. Her strength is in fact her strength — she is very strong — but I am working on her technique, so watch out,” Williams-Gayle exclaimed.

Forbes, who won gold in the Under-16 discus at Carifta last year, is not short of motivation as she has a former Vere Tech thrower to look up to in Olympian Shadae Lawrence who is both her mentor and friend.

“Shadae is someone I am looking to emulate and also to do better than as well,” she said with a smile.

The disappointment of not participating in the shot put definitely affected their performances at the Douglas Forrest Invitational, as they were all well off the distances thrown at Jamaica College the week before. Gordon had a best of 34.97m, Chambers 35.33, Chance 36.10, while Forbes was the only one over 40m with a best of 44.04m.

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