The Carifta Games are still as right for the young track and field athletes of the region as they were first staged in 1972. As seen last weekend, Carifta still gives the future stars of Caribbean track and field their first experience of international competition. It’s an invaluable first step on the way to the top.For so many, including the dominant Jamaican teams, it’s a maiden voyage into competition beyond their own shores into airline travel, different cuisine and unfamiliar stadia. It was a master stroke when the Barbadian Austin Sealyformulated the event in 1972. Now, as it was then, it’s like international competition 101.The Carifta Games also presents data for regional track and field administrators to learn from. While the sprints in both the Under-18 and Under-20 age categories had enough entries to require a preliminary round, that wasn’t the case in other events. While that wouldn’t be a surprise in the 1500m, 3000m and 5000m, there were no heats in the girls’ Under-20 800 metres, the 4x100m and 4x400m for boys and girls in both the Under-18 and Under-20 categories and in most of the hurdling events.Five girls faced the starter in the 400-metre hurdles for Under-18 girls, with four in the Under-20 version. This is startling, given the bright history in a discipline where Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados have produced high-class exponents. It was worse among the boys, with the corresponding numbers being five and three. Here the region has recently produced champions like Jehue Gordon of Trinidad and Tobago and Bahamian Jeffery Gibson.Four girls came to the blocks in the Under-20 100-metre hurdles and five young men came to contest the Under-20 110m hurdles.In the field, only three girls are listed as participants in the Under-20 high jump. This is in contrast to an apparent Caribbean upswing in the event. Just last year, Levern Spencer won this event at the Pan-American Games, with her St Lucian compatriot, Jeanelle Schepper, taking the NCAA title for the University of South Carolina. Earlier in March, the Barbadian Akela Jones cleared 1.98 metres in the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) indoors as part of the heptathlon. Jones also won the individual high jump as well.If those numbers represent ongoing trends, and in many cases they do, then the region has lots of work to do.Jamaica may be able to take care of itself. Thanks to the ISSA Boys and Girls’ Championships, our high schools pursue excellence in a wide range of athletic disciplines. Even here, there are long running weak spots in the jumps, throws and middle and long distance disciplines. The rest of the region doesn’t have Champs and needs help to spark development. Some, like St Vincent and the Grenadines, don’t even have a synthetic running track.Maybe that’s why Jamaica is becoming attractive to junior athletes from the region. They can’t wait until development comes to their island home. So they instead come to the place where, because of Champs, development is far more advanced. It’s a fair guess that they will keep on coming.n HUBERT LAWRENCE has made notes at track side since 1980.
MAIN FOCUS Despite an endearing career which began with gold medals at the World Youth Championships in1999, eight-time Olympic medallist Veronica Campbell-Brown maintains a hunger to keep improving. The veteran athlete, though failing to win an individual medal at the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil, has no plans to quit just yet. “Not right now,” she said when asked about retirement. “I am focusing on 2017. After 2017, I will re-evaluate and see. I am taking it one year at a time,” said the decorated sprinter. “Right now, my main focus is staying healthy and training hard and preparing for next season. I am just taking it one day at a time and just push myself as hard as I can, and just hope for a great 2017,” she told The Gleaner at a ceremony for the country’s Olympic and Paralympics athletes at the National Indoor Sports Centre last Saturday night. Ahead of next year’s IAAF World Championships, Campbell-Brown, a three-time World champion, is taking things step by step. “The first step is to make the Jamaican team, so that is my main focus, then go from there,” stressed Campbell-Brown, who is coached by her husband, Omar Brown, who was also her schoolmate at Vere Technical. “We know each other since high school, and so he understands me well and I understand him well, so it’s working out well,” she reasoned. The 34-year-old athlete holds personal bests of 10.76 seconds in the 100m and 21.74 seconds for the 200m. “I know I can get better, I don’t know what God has in store and He has been directing my path. I just need to take care of what I need to do; I have a lot of things to improve on as an athlete,” she pointed out. “Although I have been doing this for so long, I still have stuff that I see I can improve on and if I can really get those things done then I can do better,” she said. The athlete, who has numerous accolades and titles, is the second woman in history to win two consecutive Olympic 200m events after Barbel Wockel of Germany. “Last year overall was a good year. I can’t complain, I have to give thanks for everything. “I just know I have a lot of things to work on going forward, and that is always good when you finish your season and know that you have stuff to improve and to improve performances,” Campbell-Brown summarised. She added that she started last season well, but hit some roadblocks. She intends to get back to the top of her game soon. “I didn’t get the result I wanted, but that’s why I say it’s a good place to start and know exactly how to take care of things to move forward,” she emphasised. Meanwhile, Campbell-Brown who will be one of four athletes including to be honoured with statues at the National Stadium over the next two years, said she is elated. “That’s awesome, that is an extraordinary accomplishment. I give God all the glory for that, and I thank all the people for making it possible, all those who have supported me over the years and seen it fit for me to be honoured in that way,” she explained. The other athletes who will be recognised with statues are Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Asafa Powell.
BURBANK – The Burbank City Council was expected to vote Tuesday night to send a letter to Los Angeles officials, urging them to reject a plan to tunnel under the exclusive Rancho Equestrian neighborhood for a six-mile, $150 million sewer line. Echoing concerns of residents, Burbank officials said in the proposed letter that they are “adamantly opposed” to the Burbank-Glendale Interceptor Sewer North Alignment, saying construction would be disruptive to life along Riverside and Valley Heart drives in Burbank. “The environmental impact that a project of this magnitude would create is heartbreaking,” said Bonnie Sachs, 57, an interior designer who lives off Griffith Park Drive and keeps a horse in her backyard. “Not only would the long construction process be ridiculously impactful with dirt, traffic, noise, structural problems and (foul) odor… but the safety of horses, riders and people in the vicinity of construction would be severely compromised,” Sachs told the council Tuesday evening. If approved, Burbank’s letter would be part of the input L.A. officials are seeking through Feb. 27 for a final environmental impact report on a 20-year blueprint for treatment plant expansions, added water recycling and new sewers. L.A. officials are expected to present the final EIR for City Council approval this summer. The sewer lines – some more than 50 years old – badly need replacement, especially since the flow of waste is expected to increase 20 percent over the next two decades as the population grows, L.A. officials said. They hope to begin construction on the Burbank section by 2010. Officials have two plans for sewer line routes through Burbank – one that would require workers to install eight-foot diameter reinforced concrete pipes underground in and near the Rancho neighborhood, the other that would snake under nonresidential areas along Zoo and Forest Lawn drives parallel to the L.A. River near the edge of Griffith Park. In the proposed letter, Burbank officials raised concerns about increased noise and traffic, odor and an increase in nighttime lighting by construction crews that could last for up to three years. The letter also expressed concerns about the impacts on native coast live oak, and California black walnut and sycamore trees at Bette Davis Park. “We will find and we will choose the alignment which will have the least impact to the community and the environment,” said Adel Hagekhalil, division manager of wastewater engineering for the city of L.A. Jason Kandel, (818) 546-3306 email@example.com AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!