Expect high spectacle at the National Stadium tonight

Saturday, May 19, 2018

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It's not for nothing that 18-year-old Mr Christopher Taylor grabbed headlines entering today's 15th staging of the Jamaica International Invitational athletic meet at the National Stadium.

Mr Taylor is among the brightest prospects as Jamaicans get used to the idea of the gradual fading away of a galaxy of sprinting stars led by the now retired Mr Usain Bolt.

Still at high school, Mr Taylor will compete tonight in the 200 metres where he has a best time of 20.35 seconds. Knowledgeable track fans will be curious to see how he copes with high-level competition including the great American quarter miler Mr Lashawn Merritt.

The latter is presumably doing the half-lap event as part of the speed-work phase of his training, preparatory to returning to his pet 400m in the professional Diamond League season now getting into gear.

For Mr Taylor, tonight's run may prove an indicator as to whether he should stick to the 400m, where he has excelled as a junior on the global stage, or move towards the 200m where his natural speed has enabled increasing proficiency.

The available evidence is that his handlers may be reluctant to ask him to concentrate on both. We note news that he has been focusing more on the shorter run in recent times because of the effects of an injury.

Youthful prospects apart, the large crowd expected at the National Stadium will pay keen attention to Jamaica's double Olympic gold medallist, Miss Elaine Thompson, who will race in the 200 metres.

After a dream 2016 when she took gold in the women's 100m and 200m at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Miss Thompson disappointed at the World Championships in London last year.

She has also had a slow start to 2018. But May is still early season on the track and field calendar and in truth, 2018 is a 'down year' for many of the world's leading athletes who are likely to be more focused on the World Championships and Olympics over the next two years.

For those reasons, track and field fans may be well advised not to place too much store by what may appear to be sub-par performances from top athletes tonight.

Still, the contest involving Miss Thompson and a strong field, including the highly talented Miss Shericka Jackson, seems certain to provide an enthralling spectacle.

All told, fans should witness good competition in all events on show tonight, including the women's 200m, 1,500m, 100m hurdles, long jump, shot put and hammer throw, and the men's 100m, 800m, 3,000m, 400m hurdles, high jump and triple jump.

Yet again, Jamaica's track and field authorities, in partnership with the Government and private sponsors, have done themselves proud.

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