Champs returns to full glory
Kington College (KC) and Edwin Allen High School, with the cloud that was the COVID-19 pandemic lifted, will begin the chase at the National Stadium to retain their titles at the 113th staging of the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Athletics Championships.
This year's staging will be the first since 2019 that will be staged at full strength after the cancellation of the 2020 edition because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and health restrictions limiting the last two editions.
KC are chasing a 34th title and their first successful title defence since 2005-2006, while Edwin Allen are hoping to become the third school to win nine consecutive titles after Holmwood between 2003-2011 and Vere Technical, who still hold the record for the longest title streak in girls' history with 13, won between 1979-1993.
KC head coach Leaford Grant believes the field events will be among the top battleground areas to determine where the championship will be won this year, where he is hoping his athletes can spring a few curveballs.
"In the modern-day Champs, you have to be ready in all the different departments," Grant told STAR Sports. "The field events are where I think the championship will be decided. We have been doing a lot of work there, and hopefully, we can spring some surprises in that area."
With Edwin Allen's narrow loss at the Central Championships providing the wake-up call for some athletes, head coach Michael Dyke is expecting a strong response from them, who may not have the wealth of individual brilliance like last season, but are still a formidable force.
"It has really inspired them and got them in that mood of championships, knowing that there are challenges out there. The true Edwin Allen spirit will be at Champs this year," Dyke said. "We are preparing for all eventualities, but hopefully, at the end of the day, we will still be champions," Dyke said.
Today's opening day will be highlighted by the 100 metres preliminaries, in particular, the Class I first round, which starts at 5:22 p.m. Front-runner Edwin Allen's Serena Cole will open her campaign, as well as contenders Alexis James of Petersfield and Hydel's Alana Reid, the three fastest schoolgirls this season. For the boys, KC's Bouwahjgie Nkrumie, the favourite for the title, will feature.
The morning session includes Jamaica College's Kemario Bygrave, who starts his quest to complete a middle-distance double in the Class I boys' 1500m heats, while the 400 metres preliminaries feature the Class I boys' favourite, Delano Kennedy of Edwin Allen.