Amongst a plethora of meets this week, lies a special track and field event that is quickly making a name for itself on the track and field calendar in the country. The Corporate Area Development Meet, which forms a part of the Digicel Grand Prix Athletics Series, has come in to fill a much needed gap for schools in the Kingston Metropolitan Area. The meet will take place today and tomorrow at the National Stadium starting at 9am each day. Previously, only schools from the West, East and Central areas were able to test themselves regionally, before heading to "Champs", through the Western Championships, Eastern Championships and the Central Championships.
Now, schools in the corporate area have this benefit, and they have fully embraced the opportunity. A lot ot schools with smaller populations have also thrilled to the idea as the exposure has led to a growth in their track and field programmes. This was one of the points made by one of the main persons' behind the meet, Ricky Martin of Anthrick Sports Management.
"The Corporate Area Development Meet is actually the premier meet for the Digicel Grand Prix," Martin stated.
"It has the top four boys' schools in Jamaica which are KC, JC, Calabar and Wolmer's, then you have Camperdown, Excelsior and small schools like Campion, St. George's College that are doing well. The meet also encourages schools to come up, like Vauxhall and Mona High."
While fans are still waiting to see the top boys schools pit their top athletes against each other in their pet events, they have been able to see glimpses of what is to come based on the strategies employed by the coaches. The girls on the other hand, have been taking full use of the chance to gauge themselves against each other in what is their "mini-champs". The teams from the Central area have dominated champs over the years so the the corporate area teams get to "let their hair down" and go for it at this particular event.
Martin says that the corporate area girls schools have truly taken advantage of the meet, not only to perform, but also to get their share of the prize money on offer.
"The corporate area girls, this is where they challenge for themselves. We are talking about the likes of Excelsior, Immaculate, Camperdown. Wolmer's, Queen's, St. Andrew High, these schools challenge each other. These schools somewhat fear the Central schools but when they come amongst themselves there is a vibes, a rivalry, amongst these schools," he revealed.
An added feature of the meet is the creation of a "Class 4". While this doesn't exist at Boys Champs, Martin believes that this is necessary to keep some of the boys who are making the transition, interested in the sport.
"For Class 4 Boys, where the champions from Junior High, Primary and Prep, these boys come to high school and unless they are extremely good, like a Chris Taylor or Dejour Russell or Adrian Kerr and Terrique Stennett that come up and do well, they get lost in the system or they actually train and then just lose interest in the sport. There are so many of them that fall by the wayside," he lamented.
This new "Class 4" concept has also received the blessings from both the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) and the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA).
"What we do is try to create a chance for them to compete against each other at 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay. We ran it by the President of the JAAA, Dr. Warren Blake and he said it was a good idea and that he liked it, especially the fact that we are not putting them at 400m, we are giving them a sprint and George Forbes of ISSA also endorsed the idea, so we got the blessing from the JAAA and ISSA. They say as a development meet it is something good so you should see the future of boys and girls champs at the Corporate Area Development Meet."
Day one of the event will see the completion of twelve finals, the 1500m boys and girls, all classes, as well as the discus and high jump for Class 1 Girls, the Long Jump for Class 4 Girls, Girls HighJump Class 2, Girls Long Jump Class 2 and Girls Discus Throw Class 3. All the events contested on Friday's last day will be finals and as usual the 4x400m will close the show.
Ten events form part of the Digicel Grand Prix Series and the winners and runners-up of these events will advance to the finals which will take place during the GC Foster Classics at the National Stadium on Saturday March 10. The ten events are the 100m, 200m, 400m, 400m hurdles, 800m, 4x100m, 4x400m, discus, long jump and high jump.