Several meet records were broken on the way to a cameo appearance from current 400-metre hurdles World Champion Jehue Gordon, which brought a fitting end to the President's Classic meet at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Saturday. The National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) hosted the invitational event, which featured a promising crop of junior athletes, as well as established local and international stars. The event served as an avenue for athletes from over 50 clubs at all levels to participate and gain much-needed experience to help their developmental process. And what more inspiration would have been needed other than to see Jehue Gordon anchor for Memphis Pioneers Athletics Club in the night's final event-- the men's open 4x100 metre relay.
The relay events drew most on the attention on the day, at Memphis Pioneers powered to the finish in three minutes 13.37 seconds. The club had already established their commanding lead by the time the baton had been handed over to our World-Champion hurdler. Gordon made light work of the final leg as he powered home to give Pioneers the victory, much to the excitement of the onlooking crowd. In the women's version of the event, UTT Fast Track destroyed the entire field, as they were well ahead by the time the first leg was completed. They were in total control and brought the baton home in a time of 3:51.43, five seconds ahead of their nearest rivals. Abilene Wildcats Athletics Club finished in second 3:55.49, while Point Fortin New Jets were in a close third 3:56.90.
UTT Fast Track also dominated in the men's open 4x100m relay, despite a sluggish anchor leg which saw them finish first in 41.86. The Wildcats and New Jets finished in second and third respectively in a tight chasing pack. A new meet record was established in the women's open 4x100 when Simplex Athletic Club blazed to the finish in 46.46. The lead was exchanged earlier on in the race, however Simplex pulled ahead on the third leg and were able to hold on to the finish. Both Concorde Athletic Club and UTT were a second behind, clocking 47.59 and 47.70 respectively.
In the hotly-anticipated men's open 100m final, there was a bit of an anti-climax as half of the star-studded field did not show, including Rebirth's Marcus Duncan and Jonathan Farinha, of the Wildcats. Farinha competed in the recently concluded Carifta Games in St Kitts and Nevis. The reduced field did not stop 2008 Olympic Silver medallist, Emmanuel Callender from not only annihilating the field, but clocking a new meet record in 10.23.
There were a few stand out performances from the juniors. Francis Louis, of Toco T.A.F.A.C. powerfully finished with a time of 10.70 in the boy's U-20 100m final. Akanni Hislop devastated the field in the boy's U-18 200m setting a meet record as well in 21.28, almost a second ahead of the nearest competitor. The Wild Cat's Jamol Pierre ran riot in the boy's U-20 400m final, as he set a new meet record finishing well ahead of the field, after taking control from the back straight. Caliyah Wallace also added her two cents, as she also set a meet record in the girl's U-14 200m final, clocking 25.26. The field events also featured record-breakers, Isaiah Taylr, Seon Stafford, Portious Warren and the prodiguous Shakiel Waithe in the javelin throw, all set new meet records.
NAAA president Ephraim Serrette told the Express that the meet was organised to develop local athletes particularly in the junior divisions. He also indicated that the President's Classic was intended to help fill the void left by the Palo Seco Games. In order to continue their mandate for youth development in the sport, the association is also hosting the NAAA Development Meet at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Sunday.