KINGSTON:Head coach of Excelsior High School’s track and field programme, David Riley, says the Digicel Grand Prix Athletics Championships helps schools with smaller athletics programmes to shine.Pointing to his own team which finished third among the girls teams and in the top five among the boys’ teams in the 2016 Grand Prix series, Riley said higher-quality athletes were able to earn valuable points from fewer events, compared to the annual Boys and Girls’ Championships, in which larger teams win by harnessing more points.Excelsior athletes who performed well at Saturday’s Grand Prix final at G.C. Foster College were Shanice Love, who won the girls’ Under-20 discus with a record throw of 50.39 metres; Andre Garvey, who was third in the boys’ Under-20 discus; Joel Morgan, who won the boys’ Under-16 long jump; Jonathan Smith, who was third in the Under-20 long jump; and Kaliah Jones, who was second in the girls’ Under-17 high jump.”It’s a great opportunity for the schools to go out there and not use 10,000 people to win a championship. It works for teams like ours that have quality athletes, but can’t score 200 and 300 points to win Champs, but because we have six good athletes [we] can go there and compete against the six athletes that are good for the other schools.”It’s a great opportunity for schools that are small and have good-quality athletes and not have to pad their performance. It great for small teams and great for teams with quality,” he said.Edwin Allen girls and St Jago boys were named Grand Prix champion schools.Riley added that the more sponsors that track and field is able to attract, the better.”The Grand Prix is a positive thing for the sport. The sport is part of an entertainment package that we have not really been exploring a lot, and anything that makes it big is going to help the sport,” he said.
Sports Minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange says that Jamaicans should feel privileged to have seen sprint legend Usain Bolt compete.Grange was speaking at the launch of the JN Racers Grand Prix, and hailed Bolt for continually achieving excellence on behalf of the country. She described him as someone who is a superstar but also very humble, adding that he should be respected for succeeding every time he competed.”We have said it many times. He’s extraordinary, he’s wonderful, he’s funny, he’s truly amazing,” Grange said. “But I’m not sure that we quite understand yet what a privilege it is for us to live in the time of Usain Bolt. In a way, he has spoilt us – not only Jamaicans, but he has spoilt the entire world! He represents tremendous talent, hard work and he knows how to have fun.”STATUE THIS SUMMERGrange also reminded the audience that Bolt will be honoured at Statue Park at the National Stadium this summer with an eight-foot statue to be made by local sculptor Basil Watson.”We are on schedule to complete this statue by Independence and to have the mounting coincide with Bolt’s final World Championships in London,” Grange said. “It will be spoken about and studied by athletes for generations to come. I’m determined that Jamaica will do its part in memorialising and celebrating this once-in-a-lifetime athlete, and there are more things to come.”The minister said that although this is only the second staging of the meet, she is expecting it to be a “highly anticipated event”.”(This is) particularly because the country’s greatest athletics son – the world’s greatest athlete, Usain Bolt – will compete for us one last time on home soil. Is that so?” Grange said while jokingly suggesting to Bolt that she wants him to reconsider retirement.- R.P.