Athletes from the East ready to show their best

February 27, 2017
Hansle Parchment

Arch-rivals St. Mary High and Buff Bay High are again expected to fight for the title at the second meet of the 2017 Digicel Grand Prix Athletics Series, the Eastern Championships, at the UWI-Usain Bolt Track tomorrow.

The head coach of Titchfield High, Julian Ivy, welcomed the Digicel Grand Prix initiative, calling it 'a wonderful idea".

He said: "Most of the schools in the eastern region are really strapped for cash."

"The eastern region is looked upon as the least in track and field in Jamaica. However, we've produced a lot of top athletes who have gone on to excel at the highest international level; and we've to understand that before they got to that stage these coaches aided their development," he added.

Some of the most notable include Morant Bay High alumni Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn and Hansle Parchment, who won bronze at the London 2012 Olympics and silver at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, China.

Competition away from their training grounds this season has been sparse for most schools participating at the Eastern Championships, but St Mary High's boys and girls have shown all-round strength at some of the development meets.

These include The Queen's Grace Jackson Invitational and Camperdown Classic, with Class Two girls Keresa Richardson, Janaeli Campbell and Kay-ann James looking dominant among the Eastern Championship entrants, along with Class Two boy Lenard Hall.

The Digicel Grand Prix Championship events are the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, long jump, high jump, discus and 4x400m.

Last year, high-school athletes from out east never got the chance to compete at their decades-long track and field regional showground, the Eastern Championships.

Thanks to Digicel, the highly anticipated event makes a bigger and better return in the lucrative 2017 Digicel Grand Prix Athletics Series.

"I'm elated that Digicel is on board because if they weren't, we couldn't have the championships," noted Richard Thompson, chairman of the Eastern Secondary Schools Sports Association (ESSSA), which hosts the meet.

"I'm very happy that we're a part of the Digicel Grand Prix Series because Eastern Champs, after running some 50 years, did not happen," Thompson said, pointing to a low moment in their history.

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