Off to England!
Spot Valley High athletes to participate at the United Kingdom Aviva National Senior Trials this weekend
SPOT VALLEY, St James — A group of excited and admittedly "nervous" athletes from Spot Valley High in St James and their adult chaperones left the island last night for Birmingham, England, where they will participate in a number of activities, including running events, at the United Kingdom Aviva National Senior Trials this weekend.
The 10 athletes, four of whom will contest 100m, 200m and the 4x100m relays, were selected to be part of a cultural exchange programme between the Birmingham City Council and Jamaica.
Both Birmingham — which will host Jamaica's track and field contingent to the London Olympics in a two-week pre-Olympic camp — and Jamaica had participated in track and field and netball programmes.
Nickisa Kennedy Maxwell, head of the Physical Education department at Spot Valley, said they were excited and "felt special as, of all the high schools in Jamaica, we were the ones given this opportunity".
She said all their expenses, including airfare, accommodation and meals had been taken care of by their Birmingham hosts, adding that the trip was more about exposing the teenagers than winning races.
Yesterday, Gabriel England and Sabrina Henry told the Observer West they were both excited to be making the trip, while a tearful Shantel Brown said she would miss her mother and family during her stay overseas.
Henry showed the Observer West her digital camera which she said she is hoping to use to capture as many memories as possible.
In March 2011 a group of Birmingham teenagers from several different schools in the West Midlands area had spent a day training with the Spot Valley track team before participating in the annual Gibson Relays, Brown told the Observer West.
Two girls and two boys will run individual events during the meet in Birmingham.
Kemoy Gosling, a bronze medalist in the Class 2 100m at Western Champs in February and Delano Ellis will run the 100m and 200m, while Sabrina Hemmings and Shantel Brown will also run individual events.
The other students — Gabrielle England, Nordia Moore and Thanecia Hurge will make up the girls' relay pool, said head coach Andrew Henry, while Leeton Wallace, Kevon Jones and Orion Cunningham will be on the boys' relay squad.
The delegation, headed by the school's vice-principal Angella Williams, will arrive in Birmingham today and depending on their level of fatigue will train at Wyndley Track with Royal Sutton Athletics Club late evening.
Another training session is scheduled for Friday morning, as well as a tour of the University of Birmingham, ahead of competition on Saturday and Sunday.
The group will also visit Hamstead Hall Community School which will be having their sports day on Monday, as well as English Premier League club Aston Villa. They are also scheduled to attend Drum Community Centre Performance Showcase in the afternoon.
Tuesday will see them attending the Broadway School Performance Showcase, as well as a Jamaican Community celebration.
A farewell function is set for later in the afternoon.
The delegation returns on Wednesday.