Organisers of the GraceKennedy Inter Secondary Schools Association (ISSA) Boys and Girls Athletics Championships said preparations of the highly-anticipated event is well advanced for one of the best-ever stagings.
Colleen Montaque, chairperson of the 'Champs', told the Observer yesterday that they are ready to host the prestigious event with less than a week to go.
"Everything is on target. Our operation is in place and we are counting down the days. We are good to go," said Montaque, who is also the principal of Wolmer's Girls.
Two hundred and sixteen schools will vie for the boys and girls title with Jamaica College and Holmwood Technical being the defending champions.
The 102nd championships were scheduled to start on Wednesday March 28 and finished on Saturday, March 31, but ISSA has made a minor change and it will indeed start on Tuesday to accommodate two steeple chase events.
The opening ceremony will be on Friday between 5:00 pm and 6:15 pm and will see the procession of a grand parade of the competing schools, a performance by a popular Jamaican artist, probably I-Octane, while fellow entertainers Popcaan or Agent Sasco will close the event on Saturday night.
Large flags, swirling ribbons and Jamaican-clad performers are expected to create unique formations highlighting Jamaica celebrating 50 years of Independence and GraceKennedy celebrating 90 years.
A vintage bike is expected to lead the schools in groups of 40. Synchronized explosions of sound effects and blast of electronic flame will go off as each school exits the tunnel.
Former champs stars Davian Clarke of Kingston College and Gillian Russell-Love of Campion College, along with coaches Norman Barrett and Michael Carr, will be this year's honourees.
Meanwhile, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Gervis Taylor, who will be in charge of security, said he is pleased with the violence-free lead-up to the event with the Peace for Champs initiative which has grown from tree schools to approximately 25.
"Our role is to assist ISSA in delivering the championship safely and support public order and crime management of the championship," said Taylor.
With that in mind, patrons and vendors are being asked to co-operate with police officers as there will be the uncomfortable situation of searching.
As usual, no firearms, not even by the police officers, will be allowed in the main stadium. Fireworks, glass bottles, walking sticks, umbrellas and alcoholic beverages are also prohibited.
Vendors will be accredited and their goods will be searched to ensure that they are not carrying in any prohibited stuff.