Sun | May 28, 2023

Super class missing in action

Published:Monday | March 27, 2023 | 12:55 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer
Tina Clayton.
Tina Clayton.

The ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships (Champs) will be a blast. With 2022 World Under-20 runners-up Bouwahjgie Nkrumie, Serena Cole, Alexis James, and Kobe Lawrence leading the way, fans will certainly get moments that...

The ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships (Champs) will be a blast. With 2022 World Under-20 runners-up Bouwahjgie Nkrumie, Serena Cole, Alexis James, and Kobe Lawrence leading the way, fans will certainly get moments that dazzle.

Here’s the hitch. It would have been even better had World Under-20 champions Tina Clayton, Brianna Lyston, Kerrica Hill, and Jaydon Hibbert stayed in school instead of leaving early. The same goes for World Under-20 400 metres hurdles bronze medallist Roshawn Clarke and Dejeanea Oakley, the World Under -20 400m finalist. In fact, the departures of Lyston and Hill, who, like Hibbert, had two years of Champs eligibility left, might have hurt Hydel’s chance of winning a long-awaited Girls’ Champs title.

Last year, the treacherous National Stadium wind turned against Tina and Lyston. Benign for all the other 100m finals, it misbehaved just as the Class One dash arrived. A 2.8 metres per second headwind slowed their times to 11.23 and 11.26. In still air, that works out as 11.00 and 11.03. 2023 could have been even better.

Hill was just stunning, with a world under-18 record to jolt a sleepy Friday night session of semi-finals and a faster time, 12.71, in the Class Two 100 hurdles final on Saturday.

Don’t get me wrong. I feel certain that the 2022 superclass did what they felt was in their best interest. It’s just that I, as a Champs fan, will miss them. Can you imagine Tina and her twin Tia Clayton back in the sky blue of Edwin Allen High against Lyston, Hill, and World Under-20 200 third-place finisher Alana Reid of Hydel High in the Class One sprints and the 4x100m! After their stupendous Penn Relays sprint relay clash last year, won by Edwin Allen over Hydel with times of 43.18 and 43.62, respectively, I started to see the 43-second barrier being broken inside the National Stadium with a capacity crowd, including me, going nuts.

Hibbert has just triple-jumped 17.54 metres indoors. It would have been staggering if he bounced past 17 metres at Champs in the purple and white of Kingston College. I think he just might have done it.

Had Oakley stayed at Clarendon College, she would have to defend her Class One 400m title against in-form Rickiann Russell of Holmwood Technical and Hydel’s Captain Fantastic Oneika McAnnuff, with all three racing towards the record of 51.13 seconds.

Still, many fine prospects will do battle, starting on March 28. Nkrumie, Cole, James, and Lawrence lead the pack, but Delano Kennedy, Russell, and McAnnuff and Reid, St Elizabeth Technical’s Class Two sprinter Tremaine Todd, and Holmwood’s discus queen Cedricka Williams are part of a wide group fans must monitor closely during this year’s Champs.

Even so, I reckon my misery will linger until the meet begins on Tuesday. I’ll pine just a little for the path not chosen until then.

- Hubert Lawrence has commentated at Champs since 1991.