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A THORNY ISSUE: Newer schools on comeback trail


Andi Thornhill

A THORNY ISSUE: Newer schools on comeback trail

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WHAT?A difference a year makes!
We are literally playing catch-up as it pertains to the PowerAde Barbados Secondary Schools Athletics Championships in particular.
The championships were called off last year because work wasn’t completed in time on the new track.
Consequently, it feels like in some cases there are many broken links to be reconnected from the past and the present brings with it mysteries and surprises and still several questions to be answered by the end of the championships on Friday.
It’s a cocktail that can intensify our addiction for an intriguing contest, especially in the boys’ division, and the possibility of a partial disruption to Springer Memorial’s perennial one-way traffic among the girls.
I mean we are seeing for the first time how the graduates from the primary schools are making the transition to secondary competition.
Some of them were robbed of the opportunity to close the curtains on their primary careers because of circumstances beyond their control but will now be keen to turn a new page in grand style.
Many will be keeping a sharp eye on the performances of the Haddock twins, Ajani and Leilani, Jaliyah Denny, Ashley Jordan, Shem Leacock and Darion Clarke, among others.
We have also noticed a welcomed and heartening revival among some of the newer secondary schools which were very competitive and, in many cases, dominant back in the day.
It was their chance to get some positive headlines and it’s happening again.
So far, Dequan Lovell of St George Secondary has been crowned champion in the Under-20 Boys’ discus and colleague Dario Grandison is king of the 5 000 metres.
There have also been coronations for Reneldo Rock of Grantley Adams in the Junior Boys’ 3 000 metres and teammate Elizabeth Williams in the Junior Girls’ equivalent. Parkinson’s Dario Bowen took charge of the Junior Boys’ javelin.
Lester Vaughan have produced winners in Ashley Williams (U-20 Girls’ shot put) and Antonio Farrell (U-15 Boys’ high jump) even though they and St Leonards shouldn’t be regarded as revivalists in the strictest sense because in recent years both have been mentioned as possible title contenders.
In fact, they are being talked about in those terms again this year. Lester Vaughan look solid on track but their performance in the field will be central to their overall title ambitions in the boys.
The same is also true of St Leonard’s, who have been found wanting in the past two competitions heading into the homestrecth.
In essence, most of the newer secondary schools seem to be on the comeback trail and can have a definite say in the direction of the championships by spliting points as spoilers.
I won’t be surprised if the boys’ section is decided by the relays that took shape on what can only be described as a frantic Friday when multiple schools fouled up big-time with poor stick work.
It was much better in 2012 and previous years.
Queen’s College have the depth to retain their title despite expected strong challenges from Lester Vaughan, the much improved St Michael and Lodge.
Coleridge and Parry’s Sada Williams has been the most pleasant surprise of the year. Previously living in the shadow of Shakera Hall, she has grabbed the spotlight at every meet. She looked peerless in the prelims of the  Under-20 Girls’ 100m hurdles and 200m.
But her school only has one of her kind and most of the others too, that’s why Springer is in pole position to win an unprecedented 11 titles in succession without looking as invincible as in former years.
The queens of Government Hill are very short on track in the U-20s and just holding their own in the Under-13 and Under-15 divisions. Tristan Evelyn is the star in the Under-17s but as usual they have found the balance in field events.
The norm is for Springer to be waiting just to collect the ultimate silverware entering Day 4, but this time they lead Foundation by only 36 points, meagre by their previous standards.
A lifting of the ban on drums is needed for the organisers to share some of the limelight this year. It feels like what should be a festival is turning into a funeral.
The championships deserve better.
• Andi Thornhill is an experienced and award-winning sports journalist.

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