Mills hoping for competitive Racers return
Racers Track Club chairman and meet director Glen Mills is targeting fans being treated to competitive action as the Racers Grand Prix makes its return today at the National Stadium starting at 6 p.m.
A strong cast of stars are expected to light up the track including world 200 metres men’s champion Noah Lyles of the United States, World 100m hurdles champion and world record holder Tobi Amusan of Nigeria, as well as former World and Olympic 400m champion and world record holder Wayde Van Niekerk of South Africa who arrived in the island over the last two days. Jamaica's World 200m champion Shericka Jackson will headline the women's 100m. Jackson has a season's best of 10.82 seconds, the third fastest in the world this year. Jamaica's Natasha Morrison and Tina Clayton are also down for the 100m.
It has been three years since the last Racers Grand Prix was held, as the COVID-19 pandemic caused a hiatus. But Mills is hoping above all else that the races are competitive and entertaining for the fans to enjoy.
"We are hoping that the crowd will enjoy the entertainment that is there. What I am hoping for is very competitive races. A race regardless of the times, if it is competitive, people fighting for positions to the line that gets the crowd into it. But I am hoping that they come out and enjoy what we have to offer," Mills told The Gleaner.
Lyles will headline the men's 200m where he has season's best of 20.16. Van Niekerk, with a season's best 44.17, will compete in the men's 400m. In the women's 100m hurdles a fierce battle is expected with Amusan (season's best 12.59 seconds) taking on Olympic bronze medallist Megan Tapper (12.74) of Jamaica as well as Under-20 world champion Kerrica Hill (12.75).
However, the Grand Prix has seen late withdrawals, highlighted by the absences of Oblique Seville and Ackeem Blake for the men's 100m, which was expected to be a clash that included former world champion Christian Coleman.
Blake's absence was reportedly due to fatigue with Seville suffering an injury during training. Mills said that in Seville's case, he is more concerned about him getting ready for next month's National Trials.
"People keep on training and there is that unfortunately outside chance of a mishap or somebody taking sick that we have no control over and sometimes it tends to happen very close to competition and doesn't give you much latitude to try and get somebody else who is probably committed to another meet," Mills said. "In the case of Oblique, unfortunately he was doing his usual training and he got hurt. But I'm more worried about him getting better by the trials more than anything else. But there will be other races."
While the absences are regrettable, Mills believes that there is quality surrounding the meet that the patrons will enjoy.
"But we have had a good run of people turning up and competing. We had one or two mishaps this year. I think it's a part of the coming back but I'm sure the public will see with us and continue to support us and enjoy what takes place."
Schedule of top events
6:35 p.m: Women's Triple Jump
7:00 p.m: Women's 400m hurdles
7:10 p.m: Men's Discus throw
7:15 p.m: Women's 400m
7:25 p.m: Men's 400m B Final
7:30 p.m: Men's High Jump
7:35 p.m: Men's 400m A Final
7:50 p.m: Men's Long Jump
8:00 p.m: Women's 100m hurdles
8:15 p.m: Men's 110m hurdles
8:30 p.m: Men's 100m B Final
8:40 p.m: Women's 100m B Final
8:55 p.m: Men's 100m A Final
9:10 p.m: Women's 100m A Final
9:25 p.m: Men's 200m