Brace yourselves, Gibson/McCook Relays carnival back in town

Observer staff reporter

Saturday, February 24, 2018

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The Gibson/McCook Relays is once again set to ignite the National Stadium and serve up a treat for track and field enthusiasts with the 42nd staging of the prestigious event today.

Action is set to begin at 9:00 am.

The relay carnival started in 1973 in honour of Bishop Percival Gibson, the founder of Kingston College, and is still raising the bar as one of the best on this side of the hemisphere. In honour of one of those who started it all — Neville “Teddy” McCook — the organisers, in 2015, saw it fit to add his name to the event renaming it the Gibson/McCook Relays.

Some 4,000 athletes, from over 200 schools, institutions and clubs are once again expected to converge and set alight the National Stadium as fireworks are expected from the very first event of the near 12-hour spectacle.

As is customary, the meet is scheduled to get under way with the heats of the high school boys 4x400m relays followed by 4x400m for men's institution and then the girls. The first final will be the men's pole vault at 10:14 am.

Patrons will be feted by top-class competition in relays such as the 4x100m, 4x200m, 4x400m, 4x800m and sprint medley, and select individual events — long and high jump open for women, pole vault open for men, mile run for male and female, men's and women's 100m and 400m races.

There will be 13 championship events overall. They include the 4x100m for boys and girls Class One and Class Two and the men's institution; the 4x800m for high school boys and girls open; the 4x200m high school girls open; boys' classes One and Two, the 4x400m for men's institution and the high school boys and girls will bring the curtains down at approximately 9:20 pm.

Once again, the most excitement is expected to be generated in the relays for high schools as they continue their build-up for the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships next month, while a number of senior athletes are expected to turn out for clubs and institutions.

Last year, Kingston College (KC) and Edwin Allen High dominated the proceedings, but both will be hard-pressed to repeat as their main rivals have been hitting top form and are primed for their best efforts.

KC should expect strong challenges coming from Calabar High, St Jago, Wolmer's Boys' and Jamaica College, while Hydel High, St Jago High, Vere Technical, and Holmwood Technical will push Edwin Allen to the limit.

Calabar have been outstanding form in the relays so far this season and are tipped to turn the tables on their North Street-based rivals in the 4x400m event.

The Red Hills Road boys made a clean sweep of the relay events at the Corporate Area Development Championship last week, including an impressive 3:05.04-clocking by their 4x400m team, which was a good indication of what is to come.

Having finished second and fifth, respectively, last year, both Calabar and KC will be aiming to make a better fight of the 4x800m as they seek to dethrone St Jago for the title.

Eyes will also be on Calabar's powerful Class One 4x100 team of Christopher Taylor, Michael Stephens, Dejour Russell, and Tyreke Wilson again seeking to turn the tables on KC who won the event last year.

In fact, KC made a clean sweep of all the boys' 4x100m event last year.

Meanwhile, Holmwood Technical is again favoured to defend the girls' 4x400m champion, but will be hard-pressed to deny a wily Hydel High, who made good their intentions at the Central Championships recently. Edwin Allen and Vere Technical are also expected to be in contention for the title.

Defending champions Edwin Allen will start favourites for the girls' Class One 4x100m and 4x800m titles.

Main sponsors Digicel will be awarding $100,000 each to the top boys' and girls' schools, and will also be presenting $150,000 and the Teddy McCook trophy to the overall winners.

Patrons will be charged an admission fee of $3,000 for grandstand finish line, and $2,000 for regular Grandstand, while the bleacher's area is $500.

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