By Gregory Bryce
The dates were set, the athletes were tested, and now it is official – the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys’ and Girls’ Championships are back after a year’s hiatus due to the pandemic. The mecca of high school athletics is here and will continue under strict COVID guidelines and protocols but that does not mean the excitement for the event has diminished. In fact, many athletes, coaches, and spectators alike are anxious for the event after being forced to sit out a year. Unfortunately, some athletes have missed the chance to perform in their final year, but those who are still eligible to compete have a lot to prove in the coming days.
Here’s a list of a few athletes that you should be on the lookout for this 2021 Champs season:
First on my list of potential showstoppers is Jamaica College’s very own, Christopher Scott. Scott made headlines back in 2019 when the young athlete burst into the limelight when he posted a staggering 10.69 seconds in Class Three of the boys’ 100 meters, smashing the previous record of 10.79 set by Kingston College’s Bouwahjie Nkurmie just the year before. So impressive was his run that several believed the clock had simply malfunctioned until it was confirmed that, yes, Scott had indeed become the first – and so far, only, Class Three athlete to dip beneath the 10.70-seconds barrier.
Scott has now matriculated into Class Two and faces a much sterner field of opposition, and eyes will now be on the JC sprinter to see if he can maintain the staggering run of form that he displayed in 2019. So far, signs have been positive for Scott, who ran 10.88 seconds in his first competitive race of 2021 back in April.
It had seemed that Brianna Lyston’s star was fading with the emergence of the Clayton twins Tia and Tina. Lyston had been beaten by the two Claytons back in 2019 over both the 100 meters and the 200 meters Class Three finals.
Two years later and it seems Lyston is ready to challenge back for her throne as the premiere female high school sprinter. Switching from St. Jago to Hydel, Lyston has already beaten one of the Clayton sisters in her preparation for Champs and will be looking to complete the pair when she meets the two sisters at Champs. Having already posted an impressive 11.44 seconds so far this season (which would have seen her winning silver in the Class One finals of 2019), Lyston is up to the task ahead of her.
Edwin Allen’s Rushana Dwyer is expected to be one of her school’s leaders on the track as they aim to defend their title at Champs 2021. Dwyer is one of the favourites for her events, and she is coming into the championships with some pedigree to her name. The CARIFTA U17 1500 meters gold medallist in 2018 and the U20 CARIFTA Trials 1500 meters champion in 2020, Dwyer has the experience to go all the way when she competes at Champs.
Not to mention the fact that she has been in blistering form so far this season and has won the 1500m and 800m Class One double at the Central Championships, most will expect Dwyer to walk away victorious in the coming days.
Away from the track and into the sand, JC’s Apalos Edwards has proven his intent to win the boys’ Class One triple jump with a string of improving distances as he prepares for the Championships. With Calabar’s Luke Brown expecting to be one of his biggest challengers, Edwards has shown he is one to watch after edging out Brown at both the Corporate Area meet and the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) Qualification Trial Series.
In the best form of his life so far, and surpassing the 16-meter barrier last month, Edwards is undoubtedly the one to beat heading into this year’s Championships.
Gregory Bryce is a freelance journalist.
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