Dates set for Champs 2021

The ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships (Champs) will be contested over six days in 2021 as ISSA has released a draft that shows the competition running from Monday, March 22, to Saturday, March 27. ISSA, however, released a contingency date for May 4-8 should there be another spike in COVID-19 cases around the time planned.

The competition was cancelled for 2020 because of the pandemic, with Jamaica recording its first official case just weeks before it was to be held at the National Stadium.

The Jamaica Track and Field Coaches Association, led by President David Riley, made several proposals to ISSA, in recent weeks, for the hosting of Champs, and ISSA President Keith Wellington said, “The proposals have been formulated by our technical committee, which included two coaches representing them.”

Local high schools were competitive for the first time since March earlier this month with the staging of the Tyser Mills Development Meet at Calabar High School. Organisers were pleased with the staging, saying that all health protocols put in place were adhered to by athletes, officials, and spectators.

PARTICIPATION UNCERTAINTY

However, with restrictions on social gatherings and various health protocols in place because of the pandemic, several schools are yet to get the approval to train from their respective principals to resume training, putting their participation at Champs 2021 in doubt.

Wellington is mindful of this issue.

“We are putting on the meet for schools who are willing and able to participate if we can provide a safe environment,” he said. “It is not unexpected that some schools will not be willing or unable to, however, those that are unable to under the circumstances cannot be disenfranchised. It would be unreasonable to expect a Champs of the standard we have become accustomed to. The idea is to provide the opportunity for a return to competitive participation, not necessarily to stage the customary fanfare.”

Champs is significant to ISSA as it is one of the main sources of revenue for the body through sponsorships and gate receipts. However, just how much ISSA will earn from Champs 2021 is unsure, especially with the event planned with a limited number of spectators this time. But Wellington says that that issue will be discussed in due time.

“We are not ready to have that discussion yet as it is not a priority item on our agenda just yet,” he said. “Even without providing the usual returns, we believe it is important that our student athletes don’t miss a second year.”

Champs, for many student-athletes, is the final avenue for athletes to impress scouts from universities, both locally and internationally, to gain scholarships.

Champs 2021 qualifying criteria

Sprints - Top two from each regional meet and the next best 24

Hurdles - Top 24 islandwide

Distance events - Top 16 islandwide

Field events - Top 12 across all development and regional championships

Relays - From development meets, not only regional championships

- No qualifying standard for medley relays

Decathlon - All entries accepted


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