Gateway to greatness - Donald Quarrie says JIIM springboards athletes to stardom

May 18, 2018
Jamaica's Aisha Praught-Leer (left) on her way to victory in the Women's 3000m Steeplechase event at the Jamaica International Invitaional Meet held at the National Stadium on Saturday May 20, 2017. Praught-Leer set a national record of 9:19.29 minutes in the event.

Jamaica International Invitational (JIIM) meet director Donald Quarrie has hailed the event for showcasing athlethes before they go on to stardom.

The 1976 Olympic gold medallist says that he has noticed that since the inception of the meet 15 years ago, athletes who excel at the meet have gone on to win global titles.

"Novelene Williams-Mills has always performed well at this meet, and she has gone on to do well internationally. Tyson Gay ran fast at our meet before he became a World champion. In fact, I remember that 200m in 2006 where he and Usain (Bolt) went down to the wire, and the next year, he was World champion. Asafa Powell, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Sherone Simpson, and many others, too," Quarrie remembered.

Simpson, in 2006, months after competing at JIIM, became the fastest woman in the world later that year when she recorded times of 10.85 and 22.00 seconds in the 100 and 200m sprints, respectively. Both times still stand as her personal best in the events.

The latest athlete to have gained glory on the world stage after running exceptionally well at the meet is British Virgin Islands 400m hurdler Kyron McMaster.

McMaster stunned the world last year when he threw down a personal best of 47.80 seconds. He went on to win at the Commonwealth Games a year later.

Saturday's staging will mark the 15th year of the meet.

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