In 2002, there was no clue that Usain Bolt would become the best 100-metre, sprinter in history. Save for a forlorn Class Three effort at Boys and Girls’ Champions two years earlier, he had concentrated on the 200 and 400 metres with much success. The penny dropped at a training camp hosted by the G.C. Foster College. The nation’s finest junior athletes were assembled at the G.C. Foster College for an ongoing training camp. It was a key plank of Jamaica’s preparation for the World Junior Championships which were set for Kingston in July 2002. Bolt lined up against many of the best junior 100-metre sprinters of the day and cleaned their clocks. Those present were stunned by his speed. It was a glimpse into his famous future. In those days, training camps were a standard part of preparation for our junior teams. In the late 1990s, stalwarts like Ian Forbes, Juliet Parkes and Brian Smith manned these camps. They ensured that our juniors faced the world’s best at their best. There was even a time when support camps were held outside of the Corporate Area, with the late Constantine Haughton sharing his expertise with those who couldn’t reach Kingston. The conversion of Melaine Walker to the 400-metre hurdles was done at camp by World Junior head coach Stephen Francis with the blessing of Walker’s high school Raymond ‘KC’ Graham after an injury had threatened her 2000 season. Walker took a bronze in the World Juniors in her new event and the rest is history. In 2002, the juniors were housed each weekend at G.C. Foster and their school coaches freely attended and shared their knowledge. The out-turn was a brilliant performance by the team when the big show rolled around. Bolt famously won the 200m. Sherone Simpson, Kerron Stewart, Anniesha McLaughlin and Simone Facey clicked to gold in the 4×100 metres. Facey and McLaughlin took silver medals in the 100m and 200m respectively, with Jermaine Gonzales and Sherul Morgan third in their respective 400-metre finals. Walker moved up to second in the hurdles, behind a world junior record by Lashinda Demus of the United States. It’s a pity that the World Junior Championships won’t come to Jamaica in 2016 but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t prepare for it well. The aforementioned training camps have largely dropped off the calender. Where team members come from schools with self-sufficient programmes, they can arrive ready for national duty. That isn’t often the case. In 2010, distance ace Kemoy Campbell was slowed when funding for track at his school ran out after Champs. A camp, like the one that heralded the sprint future of Bolt, would likely have seen to his welfare. Perhaps, a better prepared Campbell would have advanced past the first round on the 1500-metres in the World Juniors in Moncton, Canada. Our top seniors largely have camps of their own, but our juniors suffer if left alone. Our medal haul at the World Juniors tell the story. In 2002, the team’s 11-medal performance may have been boosted by brilliant home support. Since then, the take has settled at lower levels. Jamaica garnered nine medals in 2004, eight in 2006, six in 2008, three in 2010, five in 2012 and six in 2014 at successive stagings of the Under-20 championships. This year, a three-day camp helped to prepare Jamaica’s 2015 Pan-Am Junior team for a 13-medal haul. The 2002 World Junior Championships in Kingston were wonderful. The support by a capacity audience, night after night, and the performances by the likes of Carolina Kluft, Blanka Vlasic, Meseret Defar, Darrell Brown and Bolt make it worthwhile for the authorities to consider a return to Kingston at some point in the future. In the meantime, it makes sense to prepare well for the 2016 renewal, wherever it is staged. The revival of preparatory junior camps would be a good way to get out of the blocks. – Hubert Lawrence was present at the 2002 World Juniors.
With his focus firmly fixed on being at his best in time for the Olympics in Rio this summer, 2012 NCAA discus champion Chad Wright has been spending time with his old schoolmates and high school coach, hoping to be razor sharp this season.This is all part of his plan to achieve the Olympic qualifying standard of 65 metres before May, compete on the international circuit, and then make the top 12 in Rio.The 24-year-old senior at the University of Nebraska has been training with his former Calabar teammates Fredrick Dacres, Traves Smikle, and Basil Bingham and others since late December 2015.”I figured I had to train a different way this year. For most of last season, I had been training mostly by myself, and someone once told me that in order to become a lion, you have to train with them, so I figured I would train at least two months training down here with the lions,” said Wright, who has been taking his classes at Nebraska online in the meantime.While he was a student at Calabar, Wright was among a group of successful throwers who helped redefine how field events, more specifically the throws, were viewed by a sprint-crazy Jamaican fan base.NUMEROUSTITLESDuring that period, Dacres won the World Youth and World Junior titles in 2011 and 2012, respectively, while Smikle won a World Youth bronze medal in 2010.Wright, the 2009 CARIFTA champion, has been working under the watchful eye of his high school coach, Julian Robinson, and has said that the focus has been primarily on improving his technique.”It’s kind of like how you have to work out a better delivery system for water, so I am pretty much working on a better delivery system to translate my gym strength into throwing far,” said Wright, who is majoring in mathematics.He revealed that so far, the friendly rivalry between him and his former high school teammates has been bearing fruit.”It’s the constant competition every day, where you can’t afford for them to be beating you up because they are going to come the next day and they’re going to bring it up as soon as they see you, so you have to shut them up,” said the 2013 CAC discus champion.The five-time All-American was among three discus throwers who represented Jamaica at the World Championships in Beijing, China, last summer, a first for the country. He said getting to compete in China proved to be a great learning experience that he believes will help him get to Rio in August.”It was a lesson for me because I went into the meet not fully prepared because I never planned anything because I wasn’t sure I would make it,” he said. It is a mistake he does not intend to make again.Wright is scheduled to leave the island early next month.
Cedar Grove, Braeton sent packing Right Stuff suffered their first defeat of the season after they were beaten 300-297 in sudden-death countdown to Correctional Services in a shock result in the City of Kingston Co-operative Credit Union Portmore Domino League last Sunday. Despite the loss, Right Stuff (29 points) maintained the number one position in the league, on points average, over Spit Fyah (29 points), which defeated Highlight Strikers 300-266. In other games, Spring Village thumped Chedwin Strikers 300-259, Ken’s Wildflower beat Garveymeade 300-262, Soursop Tree cut down Memory Lane 300-267, Eradication rushed past Unity Strikers 300-275. The league will take a one-week break and returns on Sunday, March 6. Wayne Cuff Charity Cricket match All roads lead to the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) playing field, Up Park Camp, for the Wayne Cuff Charity Cricket match tomorrow, starting at 10 a.m. Come and see past West Indies and Jamaica cricketers in action such as Delroy Morgan, Wavell Hinds, Robert Hayes, O’Neil Cruickshank, Courtney Francis, Milton Thomas, Wayne Cuff, Nehemiah Perry, Andrew Richardson, Jamaica Masters champion Domtar Sports Club, Mico Masters, Kensington Masters and May Pen Lion Masters. The Jamaica Domino Federation (JDF), under the leadership of Gerald Stephens, will host a pairs knockout domino competition tomorrow at the Garveymeade Sports Club. Registration is from 11 a.m. and entry fee is $1000 per pair. The winning pair will take home $20,000; second place, $15,000; and third place $10,000. This is a fundraising initiative by the JDF. Jamaica Domino Federation host pairs KO Favourites Cedar Grove and Braeton United were sensationally sent packing after defeats to Cumberland and Racing United, respectively, in semi-final action in the York Pharmacy-sponsored Portmore Division Two knockout football competition at Cedar Grove Sports Complex. Cumberland defeated Cedar Grove 2-1, while Racing’s win over Braeton United was a no-contest as the Gregory Park based club ran out 4-1 winners over Braeton, the side that took home the midseason title. The final will be played between Cumberland and Racing United on Sunday, March 6. Meanwhile, the league semi-final will take place tomorrow at the Cedar Grove, playing field. Fourth ranked Cumberland tackle top seeds Braeton United at 1 p.m., while at 3 p.m. Edgewater oppose Cedar Grove. Right Stuff scolded by Correctional Services