Photo: Triple Jump leader Shanieka Ricketts and her husband and coach Kerry Lee Ricketts.
Over the next four days, the heights and distances that the jumpers produce will decide who walks away with the coveted titles of National Senior Champions in the horizontal and vertical jumps.
Many had expected 2016 to provide the nation with a least one High Jump qualifier to the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio De Janero, Brazil. However the males have struggled both at the junior and senior level to crack any of the standards set for international competition.
There is still however a few chances and a little time left for aspiring athletes to get it right and they must be hoping to do so, this weekend. The entry standard for the Olympic is 2.29m for the males.
Former Wolmerian Christoff Bryan enters the national championship with a mark of 2.25m and should fancy his chances of qualifying inside the National Stadium in Kingston.
Reigning national champion Clayton Brown hasn’t done much over the high Jump but should be looking to retain his title for a second straight year. Many-time national champion, Darrell Garwood and Matthew Campbell should provide decent competition.
In the women's section, Kansas University student, Kimberly Williams should be the more favoured athlete to win that title. Saniel Grier Atkinson and Misha Gaye Dacosta should be among the top finishers. The Olympic qualifying mark is 1.93m, the same height as the current national record held by Sheree Francis- Ruff.
This season has been a quiet one for the long Jump for both males and females at the International level where it concerns Jamaica. 2016 NCAA Champion and defending national champion Chanice Porter is just shy of the 6.70m after achieving a personal best of 6.67m at the Championship.
Once again, her only competition might come from national junior champion, St Jago’s Tissana Hickling who leapt to a wind aided 6.48m jump at Junior Championships just under two weeks ago.
Jamaican’s best Olympic showing in this event came by way of Chelsea Hammond fourth place finish at the 2012 Olympic Games.
The field should include the likes of Jessica Noble, Diana Cauldwell,Todea-Kay Willis along with a few other high school jumpers completing the line-up.
Damar Forbes has been the standard bearer in the Men’s event and should once again be the top contender entering the trials. He is the only Jamaican athlete to meet the 8.15m qualifying mark needed to perform in Rio.
Forbes won last year’s championship with a mark of 7.98m, but has already surpassed that with a season’s best mark of 8.07m. He also had an 8.21 wind assisted jump just two weeks ago and hopefully with more favourable conditions inside the national stadium, he could produce a big mark and secure his pass to his second Olympic Games.
Expected challengers should be Aubrey Allen, Kamal Fuller, Denroc Dixon, Laurel Gordon, Shawn D Thompson and Obrien Wasome.
The female event should be a two horse race between reigning national champion, Kimberly Williams and World championship finalist Shanieka Ricketts. Both athletes have already secured the Olympic qualifying standard of 14.15m.
Ricketts is currently the top ranked Jamaican in the event with a season best mark of 14.57m, which ranks her fifth globally for 2016. Williams’s season’s best is at 14.38m is just outside the top ten jumpers for 2016, but she should be safe for her trip to a second straight Olympic Games.
If young rising jumper Tamara Moncrieffe decides to show up for trials she should provide quality competition. Diana Cauldwell and Tissana Hickling should also be in the Triple jump line up.
The men's triple jump, is yet to generate the excitement on the local front. Clive Pullen with 16.78m is the leading local jumper ahead of Damon Mclean (16.42m) and outstanding junior Obrien Wasome (16.39m). Jonathan Reid who finished runner behind Clayton Brown is fourth best on 16.33m, while Brown is yet to cut the 16m barrier this season.
Aubrey Allen, Javier Lowe, Jordon Scott and Alrick Ottey should be among the pack chasing the 16.85m Olympic standard.
The single gendered competition at the national championships will see athletes vying for national title rather than an Olympic berth. No Jamaican athlete has gone close to the Olympic standard of 5.70m and the expected competition will not be enough to vault any of the athletes into the territory.
Former Kingston College athlete Xavier Boland with 5.00m is the top Jamaican in this event. With national record holder Kdon Samuels not expected to be among the starters, the high schoolers from Jamaica College and Calabar High should round out the field on show on Friday.