Tuesday, 26 January 2016

TRACK SIDE: Calabar makes winning play with first high-school synthetic track and inaugural McKenley/Wint Classic

FIT TO SPRINT: The technical efficiency of athletes like Chris Taylor (up front), says Clarke, is now being improved.

For coach Michael Clarke, the best thing about having a new synthetic six-lane track at Calabar High is that now he has a first-class surface on which to train his boys for the highly competitive track-and-field seasons ahead. After all, the Rabalac Lions are gunning for their fifth consecutive hold on the ISSA Boys Champs trophy this year.

“This kind of surface is so much better to prevent the kind of injuries we would have had if we were still training on the dirt. And in terms of technical efficiency of the athletes all that can now be improved,” Clarke tells TALLAWAH, while watching over his young charges as they mentally prepared to compete at the inaugural McKenley/Wint Track & Field Classic at the school on Saturday. “All in all, it’s a great [resource] for the guys; they have been utilizing it quite well. We are quite happy that we now have this facility.” \

That Calabar High is the first Jamaican high school to make such a coveted addition to their sports programme is only dwarfed by the fact that they are the first secondary institution in the English-speaking Caribbean to make such a move. The Calabar Old Boys’ Association must be immensely proud, not to mention Principal Albert Corcho, who told us of the plans last year of the plans they were making, and Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, who officially unveiled the track with a fierce sprint of her own on Friday.

The likes of 400M phenom Christopher Taylor and Olympic medal-winning past student Javon Francis sizzled at Saturday’s meet, eliciting deafening cheers from the massive crowd as they sped to victory in their respective events. Several of their Team Jamaica peers were in attendance, including recovering sprinter Dexter Lee. “I think it’s a good look for Jamaica and the development of young athletes. It’s a great achievement for Calabar being the first high school to get a track like this,” says Lee, who watched the action from track-side. “I think it shows that Jamaica is making progress in athletics and we can start looking for greater things now.”

Meanwhile, the McKenley/Wint Track & Field Classic represents Calabar’s homage to two Jamaican legends of the sport, Herb McKenley and Arthur Wint, whose relatives were on hand to receive special tokens during the meet’s opening ceremony on Saturday.

For the record, sports administrator and a living legend himself Vin Lawrence believes an event like the McKenley/Wint Classic should have been added to the annual sporting calendar years ago. “An event like this is long overdue, but we are happy that it’s now happening,” he tells TALLAWAH, on his way to grab a seat in the VIP booth. The new synthetic track, Lawrence predicts, will provide a means for Calabar to share their god fortune with other institutions. “One of the problems we’ve had in the development of our young athletes is that they don’t have regular access to facilities like this,” Lawrence insists. “So one of the objectives is for other schools to benefit from it.”

“A classic school getting the first synthetic track in Jamaica and the Caribbean: Calabar you are well deserving.” - Natalie Neita-Headley

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