There are few more compelling sporting storylines than those featuring two athletes facing off in a high stakes battle of wills, wits, and skill. Over the years, some of the most riveting of these narratives have played out at Boys and Girls Athletics Championships. Simone Facey versus Anniesha McLaughlin (Class I 200m final) in ‘04 is one that readily springs to mind. While the race ultimately wasn’t close, the level of anticipation it generated beforehand was truly epic. Here are a few of this year’s duels among the girls that could go one better.
1) Kevona Davis vs Sashieka Steele (Class III 100m & 200m)
Edwin Allen’s Davis and Holmwood’s Steele lead a crop of CIII short sprinters that’s arguably the most talented in Champs history. Defending double sprint titlist Davis ran 11.43s — faster than Shauna Helps’ record (11.50s) — in the Under-18 100m final at CARIFTA Trials with basically no start. Meanwhile, the classy Steele, last year’s CIV 100m/200m champ, looked composed beyond her years when clocking 11.50s to hold off the hard-charging Julien Alfred at G.C. Foster Classics.
Both young ladies should serve up an encore in the 200 metres. Davis’ personal best in the event stands at an impressive 23.32s. (As good as that performance was, I think it pales slightly in comparison to her 23.56s effort — into a 4.8 metre per second hurricane — at Central Athletics Championships.) Here, however, they’ll also have to tangle with Hydel’s Gabrielle Matthews (23.78s) and 2015 CIV double sprint gold medalist Joanne Reid.
Could Anniesha McLaughlin’s stellar 23.11s record fall? Let’s hope the traditional heavyweight “Super Saturday” afternoon headwinds read the script.
2) Michae Harriott vs Julien Alfred (Class II 100m)
What a difference a year makes? At Champs 2016, St. Jago’s Kimone Shaw marked her coronation as the undisputed CII 100m queen with a sizzling record run (11.40s). Twelve months on, it looks distinctly possible that she could be deposed by either Holmwood’s Harriott or St. Catherine’s Alfred.
St. Lucian Alfred (11.98s) edged Harriott (12.01s) for the 100m title when the trio met at Central Champs. However, a couple days later, the Holmwood girl again sped away from Shaw to register a new personal best (11.50s). Not to be outdone, Alfred also sprinted to a new personal record (11.53s) in a different race on the day.
3) Cemore Donald vs Cherokee Young (Class II 800m)
Edwin Allen’s middle distance starlet Donald has been pushed to numerous sub-2:10 clockings by a host of hungry challengers so far this season. Petersfield’s Shaquena Foote (2:08.99) and Holmwood’s Brittney Campbell (2:09.88) have consistently tested her. However, it’s the fast-rising — and exquisitely named — Young, of Hydel, who’s finished closest to her, losing by less than a tenth at Central Champs (2:09.32 to 2:09.41).
Carlene Robinson’s longstanding record (2:07.74) could be seriously threatened here.
4) Britnie Dixon vs Chrissani May (Class I 1,500m)
Another potentially thrilling metric mile showdown between Vere’s Dixon and Holmwood’s May looms. May (4:38.71) got the better of Dixon (4:40.00) in their most high-profile meeting to date, at Central Athletics Championships. Interestingly, this was only a couple days after the latter took home the CARIFTA Trials Under-20 1,500m crown, against a May-less field, in a significantly faster 3:34.76.
Kara Grant (3:35.75), second to Dixon on the aforementioned occasion, will also be eager to get into the mix.
5) Britany Anderson vs Daszay Freeman (Class II 100m Hurdles)
Vere’s Anderson strikes me as one of those extremely rare ‘generational’ talents. Her scintillating 13.21s clocking — into a stiff 3.2 metre per second headwind — in the Under-18 100mH final at CARIFTA Trials suggests that something sick could be in the offing if she executes well. If she doesn’t, however, she could open the door for consummate championship performer Freeman (13.44s) and the gifted Shanette Allison (13.38s) to slip right in.
The record (13.38s) stands about as much chance of surviving as a snowball would in hell.
***Look out for Eye-catching “Champs” Clashes — Girls (Part II) for match-ups 6-10.***