Shericka Jackson to be honoured at Ben Francis Invitational

By Dwayne Richards
Observer writer

Saturday, February 16, 2019

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Vere Technical High, the school that has produced the most Jamaican Olympians, will host the ninth staging of the GraceKennedy/Ben Francis Invitational on their school grounds today, starting at 8:30 am.

GraceKennedy returns as title sponsors, after taking on the option last year.

As is customary, the school will be honouring one of their legends and this year it will be Shericka Jackson. The former Champs standout now represents the country at both the 200m and 400m, one of the most difficult combinations in the sport of track and field. She joins the list of honorees who include the likes of Merlene Ottey, Veronica Campbell Brown and Inez Turner.

The meet serves as a qualifier for the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships and is one of the few to offer the steeplechase event. In an effort to increase the participation in this particular race on the girls' side, the organisers have added it to the list of championship events for the first time.

Wayne Whyte, acting head of the PE Department at Vere, outlined the expectations for today.

“We are looking out to have first, a very successful meet; we are expecting to have a big turnout from the different high schools going into Champs. Our championships events this year include steeplechase — a new addition to the championship list, the 4x400m Open for girls and boys, the 100m Class One girls and boys.

“Persons should turn out. this is the opportunity to see some of the top athletes going into Champs next month, so it's an opportunity to see some good competition this weekend.

“At Vere we see it fit to give the opportunity to the steeplechase athletes who don't get enough chances to compete to qualify for Champs.”

Holmwood Technical, Central High School, Mile Gully High, Manchester High School, Lennon High, Clarendon College, Kemps Hill and Fogo Road are some of the schools expected to be in action.

Floyd Coke has taken over as head coach from John Mair, who is now at Hydel High, and is keen on rebuilding Vere to their former glory, one season at a time.

“We are trying to build again a solid base to prepare the team from, so what you will find is that our team is young but they are motivated — so this year is just to build a base.

“For us it's a process to build a solid base from which to propel the team, so there is no general focus per se. We should do well in all areas as well as our team allows us. We should put a creditable performance together.”

Vilma Charlton, fourth vice-president of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association, spoke glowingly of the career of Vere Technical founding Principal, Colonel Ben Francis at the launch, highlighting his pioneering work in making sports an integral part of school life throughout the country.

Ben Francis, who passed away last year, will be honoured with a bust on the school compound by the end of the school year, according to the Principal Antoinette Banton-Ellis.


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