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Reebok Meet: Signs of Things Things to Come

There was no Usain Bolt this year, and while some may have gone to the Reebok Grand Prix at Icahn Stadium in New York expecting show-time performances from senior athletes similar to what happened in Beijing, it was the junior stars and one young sprinter, who recently turned pro, that gave fans something to stand and cheer about.

On the flipside, the big guns seemed to be just warming up, only hinting at what to expect in two months. Richard Thompson, the 2008 Olympic silver medalist who has had some amount of setback since Beijing, ran 5 th ; former 100m world record holder Asafa Powell, who has suffered some injury, was 7 th ; Michael Frater and Nesta Carter, Powell’s teammates that helped set the current 4×4 world record, finished 8 th and 9 th , respectively in the 100m A race that was won by American Mike Rodgers in a wind-aided 9.93 secs. with his compatriot Travis Padgett second in 9.96.

Jamaica’s Steve Mullings, clawing his way back from a back injury, ran 9:98 secs. for third then crashed to ground grimacing and holding his  hamstring. He later brushed off the apparent injury as a “slight cramp.”

The World Championships 100m defending champion Veronica Campbell was 3 rd in the 100m and 2008 400m hurdles Olympic gold medalist Melaine Walker was also 3 rd and relatively slow in her main event.

Despite no big -name winners from the Caribbean, the region had a number of top-finishing performances in events dominated by the Americans. Among the most outstanding were T&T’s Cleopatra Borel-Brown’s 60′-2″ for 2 nd in the women’s shot put and Rennie Quow’s 44.89  secs. for 2 nd in the 400m; Jamaica’s Shericka Williams’s 50.58 secs. (second fastest time in the world this year) for 2nd in the 400m; Nickiesha Wilson’s 55.28 secs. for 2nd in the 400m hurdles;
Kenia Sinclair’s 1:59.56 fo r 2 nd in the women’s 800m; and Bahamian Olympian and national hurdles record holder Shamar Sands’s wind-aided 13.32 secs. for 2 nd in the 110m hurdles B race.

Jamaica’s young rising star Yohan Blake from Usain Bolt’s training camp was the lone senior winner from the Caribbean, clocking 10.20 secs. in the 100m B race against a field that included 2007 World Championships 100m silver medalist Derrick Atkins of The Bahamas, Leroy Dixon of the US and Keston Bledman, a member of T&T’s silver medal 4×1 sprint relay team at the last Olympics.

At the high school level, Calabar out of Kingston, Jamaica continued its winning streak in the High School Boys 4×1, setting a record of 40.21 secs. That team posted a 39.91 to smash the record at the Penn Relays in April. Calabar’s Oshane Bailey beat IAAF World Youth and Junior Champion Dexter Lee (Jam) to win in a personal best of 10.31 secs, ahead of teammate Ramone McKenzie, 10.45, and Lee, 10.48.

Another Jamaican School, St. Jago High, posted 3:14.14 secs. to take the Boys 4×4 ahead of Jamaica’s Kingston College, 3:16.35. Anchored by the 2008 World Youth 200m silver medalist, Nikel Ashmeade, Jago took the lead early and never looked back.

Benjamin Cardozo, a high school team out of New York coached by Trinidadian Gail Emmanuel, was awesome in the Girls 4×4. The all-Caribbean-background quartet of Ahtyana Johnson (B’dos); Claudia Francis and Chamique Francis (Jam); and Tessa West (T&T) established a meet record of 3:39.96 secs. to hold off the fast-finishing anchor Antonique Campbell of Jamaica’s Herbert Morrison Technical. Campbell, who took her team from fifth to second stopped he clocked at 3:49.00 secs. and got a standing ovation for her brilliant run.

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