CALABAR High’s wunderkid Christopher Taylor woke up a sleepy National Stadium yesterday with his now customary first round ‘gallop’, clocking a swift and easy-looking 47.25 seconds to win his heat of the Class Two 400m as the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys’ & Girls’ Athletics Championships got under way under overcast skies yesterday.
Taylor, who set the Class Three record in the first round last year, easily cruised past the field by the 250m mark and was off on his own merry way as he chased the 46.64- second mark set by Devaughn Baker of Jamaica College two years ago. Taylor’s teammate, Anthony Carpenter, had the next best time of 49.34 seconds with the St Elizabeth Technical pair of Jauavney James (49.83 seconds) and Leonardo Ledgister (49.67 seconds) looking set to upset the predictions.
Morant Bay High’s Keco Morrison was second to Taylor with 49.87 seconds, while Acebe Thompson of Excelsior (49.82 seconds), Sheldon Smith of Munro College (49.81 seconds) and Tyrek Bryan of Kingston College (49.63 seconds) were also among the fastest qualifiers.
Greater Portmore High’s Terry Thomas blazed 46.12 seconds to lead the Class One 400m, while Kingston College’s Twayne Crooks won his heat in 47.23 seconds; teammate Akeem Bloomfield ran 48.11 seconds to win his heat with Munro College’s Fabian Murray third in 48.33 seconds. St Jago’s Nathan Allen ran 48.22 seconds to win his heat, while World Youth Championships gold medallist Martin Manley ran 48.23 seconds. In the Class Three 400m, Tajai Jackson of Calabar led the qualifying with 51.91 seconds with Holmwood Technical’s Tajay Broomfield next with 51.92 seconds; Evaldo Whitehourne of Calabar (51.95 seconds) and Hydel High’s Raheem Russell (52.07 seconds) leading the qualifiers. The fireworks are expected to start as soon as today with three finals down to be contested — Class One and Two long jump, as well as the steeplechase, plus the running of the first rounds of the 200m in all four classes, the 400m hurdles where Wolmer’s Boys’ Jaheel Hyde, the World Junior champion, will make his first appearance.
Three finals are down to be contested today, the Class One and Two long jump and the 2000m steeplechase, while the first five events in the decathlon Open will also be contested, as well as the preliminaries of the Class One discus throw, the 800m and the 4x100m relays will also be contested. Michael O’Hara is expected to redeem himself after last year’s implosion and will start as favourite to win the Class One 200m, but a battle is expected with Kingston College’s Twayne Crooks and St Jago’s Chad Walker.
Kingston College’s Jevaughn Matherson and Calabar’s Christopher Taylor are the early favourites in Class Two, while in Class Three Green Island’s Javier Johnson looks well set to win his first Champs gold medal. Jamaica College’s Obrien Wasome, who was third last year, leads the Class One long jump qualifying, jumping 7.54m, well ahead of the Cornwall College pair of Odaine Lewis (7.13m) and Alrick Ottey (7.12m).
Ajani James, also of Jamaica College, jumped 7.12m to advance to today’s final, along with Campion College’s Jordan Scott,while St George’s College’s Carlington Moulton was the only other jumper over 7.00m. Adrian Mitchell of Calabar High led the javelin Open qualifying with 55.71m ahead of Petersfield’s Kevin Nedrick with 53.64m, Jevaud Pringle of Bellefield with 53.52m, Najair Jackson of Calabar with 53.45m and Ronque Taylor of STETHS with 49.79m in the top five.