Like they did at Champs 2013 records tumbled line ninepins at the 2014 Gibson Relays at the National Stadium. An estimated 12,000 people had a hard time catching their collective breathS because even the before the excitement of one amazing record-breaking race could die down another one was ready to blast off. By my count there were 11 records at the 38th renewal of the Relays but I swear it felt like a hundred.
It was incredible! In the men’s clubs and institutions sprint relay there were four teams under 39 seconds. You only see those things at major championships.
The Calabar Class One sprint relay team set what I believe is a world record for high school teams – 39.61s. Just over 20 years ago I was very closely involved with CAST’s Bolt’s of Lightning relay team that back then became the first club in Jamaica to break 40 seconds, so for me it was absolutely mind boggling to see high school teams going even faster. What is equally important to note is that St. Jago also broke 40 seconds – 39.99s and had the much-fancied Kingston College not messed up their baton passes, there would have been three teams under that barrier.
Those across the globe who feel that Jamaica have a problem with doping might be forced to take a closer look, but I suspect that all they will find is a country that is bursting at the seams with exceptional coaching and athletic talent. One can only imagine what could happen when these youngsters mature and start representing the senior team.
Depending on where you sit the Class 3 sprint relay team from Calabar Class 3 team broke 42 seconds could just be even more outstanding that the performances of their seniors. This is a team of under-14 sprinters and what they have done is equal performances we use to see from Class One athletes not that long ago. Warren Weir, who also performed exceptionally well on Saturday, reminded me that the Class One sprint relay team at Calabar that he was on, was a 41-second team. Need I say more?
Then there are no words to describe the talent of Kingston College’s sprinters in Class 2 this year. All season long we have been hearing how this team that includes the prodigious talents of Nathaniel Bann, Jevaughn Matherson and Akeem Bloomfield will break 40 seconds in the 4x100m but they didn’t. They still managed to set a new record of 40.65s and I daresay, we just might, in four weeks or so, see them go even faster.
It is worth noting that KC’s time in the 4x200m relay (1:25.30) was faster than the winning time in Class One.
The girls are not to be overlooked. Edwin Allen possess a crew of talented sprinters that includes Monique Spencer who takes pleasure in abusing her opponents on the track and Saqukine Cameron, who tells me she is healthy this year. They formed the core of the Edwin Allen sprint relay team that set a new mark of 44.48s. I fear for those other schools who will go up against them at Champs, especially now that they have been boosted by the return of Christania Williams, who looks to have lost no speed during her extended injury time out from the sport.
I couldn’t move on without saying that Shauna Helps looked awesome in pulling a Donkey Man in the sprint relay. Her opponents had better be wary of her.
Aside from the accomplishments of the high school athletes, it was very heartening to see Yohan Blake almost back to full speed. He looked awesome and we cant wait see him in more races this season. Warren Weir has been on a linear path to greater speed over the past three seasons and it looks like he is about to go faster still this season. His unofficial 45.9 relay split in the mile relay and his blistering curve in the sprint relay suggests that Weir could become a 19.5 2o0-metre man this season.
Stephanie McPherson seems to have picked up from where she left off last season setting a new Gibson record of 51.23 for the 400 metres. Kaliese Spencer also continues to look impressive this season as was Kerron Stewart. It will be very interesting to see what these two ladies do in their respective disciplines this season.
After all that excitement I am dog tired so I will close by saying that if Gibson is the barometer by which we judge Champs, there won’t be any words adequate to describe what those championships will be like in just about four weeks’ time. I can’t wait.