Although historically famous for its contribution to West Indies cricket, Jamaica’s outstanding achievements in the area of track and field continue to propel the island nation into the limelight of the sporting world. Its record of achievement, remarkable for such a small country with limited resources, began in 1948 when the island, still a British colony, entered its first Olympics and has included the successes of medallists such as Arthur Wint, Herb McKenley, Don Quarrie and Merlene Ottie. In more recent years, team Jamaica, spearheaded by the likes of Usain “Lightning” Bolt and team members Asafa Powell, Michael Frater, Nestor Carter, Shelly Ann Fraser, Melaine Walker and Veronica Campbell-Brown, have broken records and created history in both the Beijing (2008) and London (2012) Olympics.
Despite their base in Jamaica, it is rare to see Bolt and others in action on their home turf. A great way to see Jamaica’s rising stars, however, is to catch the annual Inter-Secondary Boys and Girls Championship, otherwise known as Champs (wtrackandfieldja.com). This four-day event (usually held the week before Easter) at the National Stadium sees the very best high-school athletes competing against each other; it is here that university coaches and sporting companies – such as Puma and Adidas – come in search of the sporting stars of the next generation.