GOLDEN GIRLS - Comm Games champs on show at JII meet

Christopher Taylor vs LaShawn Merritt: A great side show at JII meet

BY HOWARD WALKER
Senior Staff reporter
walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, May 19, 2018

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The 15th staging of the Jamaica International Invitational (JII) meet will once again see a convergence of stars inside the National Stadium, but most eyes will be fixed on Jamaican prodigy Christopher Taylor as he matches strides with American great Lashawn Merritt over 200m.

Start time is 5:00 pm.

Taylor, the 18-year-old high school star, who has a 200m personal best of 20.35, will bring added excitement to the meet as Jamaicans are eager to see how he will perform against top-class senior opposition.

The deal is made sweeter that Taylor will be matching strides the 31-year-old Merritt, who has a personal best of 19.74s established in 2016.

Both Taylor and Merritt are junior world champions over 400m, now looking to make a mark in the 200m for one reason or the other.

Merritt is working on his speed for the 400m, while Taylor has been running the 200m more regularly as he recovers from an injury which has hampered him over his pet 400m event.

Last year, Merritt was second in 20.28s behind Canadian Andre DeGrasse, who won in 20.14s and will be aiming to go one better.

It is expected that Taylor will run the 200m at the World Junior Championship in July and this acid test of sorts will give him and his coach an idea to his state of readiness.

Canadian sprinter Aaron Brown, who has a personal best of 9.96s and 20.00s over 100m and 200m, respectively, along with another promising Jamaican Chad Walker, formerly of Jamaica College and St Jago High, will also be in the race with a personal best of 20.35.

Meanwhile, athletes' liasion Donald Quarrie made it clear that Taylor is not eligible for prize monies and as such, it's just to aid his preparation.

The JII is an area permit World Challenge meet, and as stipulated by the world governing body IAAF, there will be 12 core events for both men and women.

The females will compete in the 200m, 1,500m, 100m hurdles, long jump, shot put and hammer throw, while the male events are 100m, 800m, 3,000m, 400m hurdles, high jump and triple jump.

The four discretionary events are the 200m and 400m for men and the 100m, 400m and 400m hurdles for women.

Last year's meet produced two world-leading times, nine meet records and a Jamaican national record in the men's 3,000m by Kemoy Campbell and a lot is expected as athletes fine-tune preparations for later in the season.

Jamaica's double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson headlines some stellar line-ups and will compete in the 200m where she will face the fastest Jamaican this year in Shericka Jackson. She competes also against three Americans, Kimberley Duncan, Phyllis Francis and Kyra Jefferson, with the latter having a personal best of 22.02 seconds.

The women's 100m will see a return to local action for Olympic silver medallist Kerron Stewart, who will match strides with Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor, Christania Williams, Gayon Evans and Natasha Morrison.

The seventh fastest woman in history over the 100m hurdles, American Jasmin Stowers with a personal best of 12.35, will take on the promising Jamaican Yanique Thompson and Megan Simmonds.

Jamaica's freshly minted Commonwealth Games champion shot putter Danniel Thomas-Dodd, steeplechaser Aisha Praught-Leer and 400m hurdler Janieve Russell are also expected to grace the stadium. However, Praught-Leer will compete in the 1,500m.

With the retirement of Usain Bolt, Jamaica has been off the ball in the 100m, as evidenced at the Commonweath Games in April, and Julian Forte will compete in the 100m where he will be up against Americans Mike Rodgers, Ron Baker and the veteran Kim Collins.

Jamaicans Javon Francis, Demish Gaye and national record holder Rusheen McDonald are down for the 400m. They will face Kevin Borlee of Belgium, Brandon Taplin of Grenada and American Paul Dedewo.

Patrons are asked to pay $4,500 for Finish Line; $3,000 for Grandstand A and $1,500 for Grandstand B. Bleachers will cost $400.

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