With Paul Reid
The Sporting EdgeThursday, June 10, 2021
After being cancelled last year, the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association's (JAAA) National Senior and Junior Trials will return in two weeks' time, and already the anticipation and excitement levels are reaching fever pitch.
Last weekend's fantastic 10.63 seconds by Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, setting a new national record and becoming the second-fastest women ever in the 100m, has only helped to whet the appetite and ramp up the excitement.
It's not just 'Mommy Rocket' alone who is doing well, Elaine Thompson-Herah ran 10.87 seconds in the 100m while winning the sprint double at a meet in Florida on Saturday, the same meet where Briana Williams broke the national junior record in the women's 100m for the third time in about eight days.
On Sunday, Olympic champion Omar McLeod ran 13.08 seconds to win the 110m hurdles in Holland and Danniel Thomas-Dodd threw the shot put 19.26m.
A few months ago we would never have expected this level of excitement two weeks before the national trials, as a matter of fact, we did not know if we would even be having the national trials in the first place.
The island recently was in the midst of the second wave of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the numbers of new infections were going up every day and the Government appeared to be resisting calls to “free up sports”.
The 'experts' were predicting that our local-based seniors, who were getting ready for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, were being left behind as the Americans and others were being allowed to train and compete, and when our athletes failed to win at some early season meets held overseas, there were weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.
All of these were of course premature and knee-jerk reactions as between the MVP Track Club and the JAAA and lately the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), there have been a steady stream of meets that allowed the local-based athletes to test themselves on a weekly basis.
The JAAA must be given credit for the work they have done quietly and behind the scenes to take the baton from where MVP left off with their Velocity Fest series that started last year, staging a series of meets before the JOA stepped in with the Olympic Destiny series of meets that also offered attractive cash prizes.
It was at the local meets that we saw the emergence of arguably the most exciting young male sprint hurdler, Rasheed Broadbell, the former St Jago High star, now at MVP, who is ranked number three in the world and is expected to be on the plane to Tokyo next month.
It was these meets that Shelly-Ann, Elaine and the other local-based athletes including World Champion long jumper Tajay Gayle were able to sharpen their skills which will make them competitive come July when the Olympic Games get underway.
Hopefully, next year we will be able to revert to the regular schedule of track meets including the STETHS Invitational, Milo Western Relays, Grace Jackson Invitational and the Gibson/McCook Relays, but hopefully too there will be lessons learnt from these last two very difficult years that we can carry forward.
The idea of the Olympic Destiny is a good one and it will be up to the organisers to rename it in the non-Olympic year and give our local-based athletes who are not able to go to Europe and earn the big pay days to at least be able to earn something at home.
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