Sun | Oct 1, 2023

Harris ‘upset’ doesn’t surprise coach

Published:Tuesday | March 14, 2023 | 1:25 AMRaymond Graham/Gleaner Writer

TWO OF the biggest upsets at this weekend’s Carifta Trials inside the National Stadium came on Sunday’s third and final day in the sprint hurdles where St Elizabeth Technical High School’s (STETHS) Habiba Harris and Calabar High’s Shaquan Gordon had massive wins in the under-20 girls’ and boys’ events.

In what could be counted as the most stunning result, Class Two athlete Harris shocked Alexis James of Petersfield High, the World Under-20 Championships silver medallist in the event and final-year Class One athlete.

James is the overwhelming favourite to go all the way in the event at this month end’s ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships (Champs). Harris produced a personal best and World Under-20 leading time of 13.35 seconds, relegating James, 13.38, to second place.

While it was a major shock for the fans, it was not so for STETHS head coach Marvin James.

“Coming to the Trials, naturally she had some fears going into the under-20 race, especially going up against James. The plan was for her to finish second but in the warm-up area she was looking super impressive going over the hurdles and the rest is now history,” he said.

With Class Two girls competing over lower hurdles, James was forced to make adjustments for his charge in the week leading up to the Triasl.

“We sat down and mapped out the best route to make the national team and I used the week in training prior to the Trials to fine-tune her preparation over the new height,” said the coach.

Harris, who finished fourth in the event at Champs last year in 13.41 seconds, behind record holder Kerrica Hill of Hydel, who won in 12.71 seconds, was ranked number five in the Class Two event with a season’s best of 13.52 done at the Western Championships.

Holmwood Technical’s Kiara Meikle is the leader in the event following her 13.16-second winning time done at the Central Athletics Championships.

Asked if he is confident that Harris can win at Champs, James said: “The plan is definitely for her to win the event at Champs, as she has gotten much faster this season as this showed on Sunday.”

Harris is ranked number two in the 200 metres with a season’s best of 23.94 seconds, just behind Lacovia’s Sabrina Dockery, the top seed with 23.43 seconds.