They’re off and running for Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletic Championships 2016. Calabar High will retain the Boys’ Champs title by a 50-60 point margin, while Edwin Allen High will also repeat as Girls Champs winners by an 80-90 point margin. The more difficult call to make will be who will win the stellar Class One boys’ 100-metre event? All things considered, the race should be fast and the winner will be one of Jhevaughn Matherson of Kingston College (KC), Nigel Ellis of St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) and the St Jago High’s rocket man, Raheem Chambers. This race is Ellis to win. His body of work, but more specifically his 10.20 clocking while running all alone at Western Championships, has quite rightly earned him the favourite’s tag. His blistering top-end speed and aggression over the final 40 metres should render Ellis unbeatable at this level, providing he executes well. Chambers will have to beat them with his strength out of the blocks and hold his form and momentum through to the tape. Due to the minuscule margin for error in this quality field, the St Jago man will have to run a perfect race to win. But Chambers did show signs of returning to his 10.27 best, with a comfortable 10.32 clocking at the recent Carifta Trials. Matherson will be the X-factor in this race. He reminded all and sundry how special an athlete he is with that 10.25 run while easing up and gazing all around the stadium, also at the Carifta Trials. Outside of the sheer class and quality of the Class Three 100m record holder, the dynamics of Matherson wearing the purple of KC cannot be overstated. When it comes to Champs, that energy generated by the constant bellowing of purple support coming from the stands, has discombobulated many opposing athletes over many years. The big question is this: How will Nigel Ellis cope with the ‘purple pressure’ come that final on Friday evening? There is also the burden of expectation on Ellis, not just of winning his first major race at Champs, but also to become the first STETHS athlete to win the prestigious Class One 100-metre event. If Ellis passes those mental tests he will win. He is naturally fastest in the field and with that stunning anchor leg in the mile relay at the Gibson/McCook Relays, he showed that he is not just fast, but also supremely strong. Having listened to him in a couple of interviews, I get the impression that he is quite level-headed, with a near nonchalant dynamic to his easy going, relaxed personality, qualities he will need to cope with those crucial race pressure moments. As is the tradition of this particular event, it will be worth going miles to see. The hope is for a legal headwind of about 1.6 to 1.8 metres per second, which would serve up the necessary conditions for an assault on the 10.12 Champs record by the Anguillan citizen Zharnel Hughes, who competed at Champs for KC. It is quite befitting our legacy in world sprinting that a Jamaican schoolboy retains that record and that honour. All things remaining equal, I predict Ellis to win from Matherson from, Chambers, with the hope being that mother nature will oblige with the necessary conditions for a schoolboy sprinter to dip under 10.10 for the first time in our glorious Champs history.
- Makyn The Shot
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