The four-day National Senior and Junior Championships has received a boost of $25 million from the Government for the staging of the most eagerly anticipated national trials since the retirement of sprint legend Usain Bolt.
The event will begin on Thursday and end on Sunday.
With performances by Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Elaine Thompson-Herah, Shericka Jackson and Briana Williams on the women’s side, and Oblique Seville and Ackeem Blake on the men’s side leading into the championships, fans are already eager to see what will transpire over the course of the four days.
Speaking at the launch, Minister of Sport Olivia Grange shared what has been happening in the sport of track and field in Jamaica and overseas since the start of the year.
“What an exciting year in athletics it has been so far. It has been exciting here at home and it has been exciting abroad.
“We have seen exciting things from the JAAA (Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association)/SDF (Sports Development Foundation) Jubilee Series, the Boys’ and Girls’ Champs, the Carifta Games, and even at the primary level with the Insports Primary Schools Championships,” she said.
Grange told the gathering that she would be honouring the financial request of the JAAA in full in support of the National Championships.
“I understand that the JAAA is asking for $25 million and I will tell you that you have a friend here. So, we will be making a significant contribution to continue supporting the JAAA and their activities. You are asking for $25 million, consider it done. You can always depend on your minister. I put my money where my mouth is,” she said.
JAAA President Garth Gayle outlined the busy schedule that his organisation and the island’s athletes will be facing over the next few weeks.
“The National Championships, which is for both senior and junior athletes, will be used to select teams to four major international meetings over the next two months.
“This includes the World Championships to be held in Eugene, Oregon in the United States of America, July 15-24, the World Athletics Under-20 Championships to be held in Cali Colombia from August 1-6, the Commonwealth Games to be held in Birmingham, England August 1-6, and crowning it off, we come back into our region for the NACAC Senior Championships to be held in Freeport Bahamas August 18-21.
“We will be having a packed two months of activities. Medals, medals galore at the senior level and at the junior level as well,” he promised.
Gayle believes that Jamaica will remain competitive at the World Championships and was particularly delighted with the performances of some of the senior men, in particular.
“We expect to continue our 16-year dominance of world sprinting, especially in the women’s 100m and 200m; we are very proud and pleased of this achievement. Our men are back and will be competitive at the highest level.
“We expect strong female and male contingents to all of these events that I would have named. We are looking to have the Jamaica flag hoisted on many occasions. We are expecting great results within the throws and the jumps,” Gayle said.
Almost 600 athletes will participate in the meet which will feature 60 events for seniors and juniors.
All of the big names are entered with the marquee events, the men’s and women’s 100m finals, set to highlight day two of the meet on Friday where there are 20 scheduled finals. Before that there will be nine finals on day one on Thursday, eight on Saturday, while the last day on Sunday will feature 23 finals.
Tickets will be available for sale online, at the stadium’s ticket office and at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel. A premium season ticket will be available for $7,500, while non-premium will cost $6,000. The daily entry cost will be $3,000, except for Thursday, which attracts a cost of $1,000.
The bleachers will be open on Friday and will cost $500 for entry.