Fraser-Pryce, Dacres headline early cast for Racers Adidas Grand Prix

BY SHERDON COWAN
Jamaica Observer staff reporter

Multiple Olympic and World champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Commonwealth Games discus champion Fedrick Dacres headline a number of Jamaican stars among other stars for the fourth edition of the Racers Adidas Grand Prix.

Fraser-Pryce will be out to defend her 100-metre honours from last year’s staging, while Dacres will be making a debut appearance at the meet scheduled for June 8 inside National Stadium.

The outing for Fraser-Pryce, Dacres and others, will be their final dress parade ahead of Jamaica’s National Championships two weeks later, where they will vie for spots on the team to the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar, in September.

Meanwhile, uncertainty surrounds the confirmation of another World and Olympic medallist Yohan Blake for the meet, and Racers Grand Prix Chairman Glen Mills said it’s a “wait and see”.

“His name is not listed because he has not yet been able to confirm. The thing is that he is looking at Racers Grand Prix, Adidas and the trials (National Championship), all in such a short space of time, so as soon as he gets sorted out we will know….by now and the meet we will see,” Mills told journalists during the launch at Jamaica Pegasus yesterday.

That aside, Mills promised another exciting staging of the meet, which was previously sponsored by JN Bank since its inception in 2016.

The Racers Grand Prix, with Usain Bolt as the main drawing card, has attracted a host of stars and thousands of fans to Kingston over the years and has rivalled many World Challenge or Diamond League events on the international track and field calendar.

Athletes such as American Carmelita Jeter, world record holders Wayde van Niekerk (400m) of South Africa, David Rudisha (800m) of Kenya, along with Great Britain’s distance great Mo Farah were among those to grace the National Stadium in the past.

Despite this being the second year the Racers Grand Prix will be without the legendary Bolt, who called time on his illustrious career in 2017, Mills believes the meet continues to grow in reputation.

“Racers Grand Prix has grown in stature over the years; we are well recognised on the IAAF calendar and we guarantee that it will be another well-organised meet, which is the hallmark of the Racers Grand Prix,” Mills declared.

“I can’t speak for anybody but when we came into the arena we set certain standards and the athletics fraternity saw the quality of the meet and the organisation and authenticity and so, more and more they are warming to the experience. A lot of the top athletes want to compete at the meet based on the reports that they are getting and that is fantastic,” the Racers Track Club president added.

And even with the meet being voted the most outstanding one-day meet in the region, Mills noted that they are not seeking World Challenge or Diamond League status.

“When you get tied up in those, they control the events that you want to put on. We want the freedom to put together a product that will excite the Jamaican public to come out and support the meet because if they don’t come out and support the meet we are not going to get the sponsors.

“One of the things that we pride ourselves on is that the public has come out and supported the meet and the athletes like Shelly-Ann and Usain and so on when they needed the support at crucial points, they get it from meets like this,” Mills argued.

A total of 130 athletes from 15 countries have already been confirmed and Mills revealed that a host of other Olympic and World champions are still waiting in the wings to be a part of the three-hour showpiece with 19 events to be contested.

Danniel Thomas-Dodd, Shanieka Ricketts, rising star Briana Williams, Asafa Powell, Ronald Levy, Akeem Bloomfield, Jaheel Hyde and Javon Francis are some of the other Jamaicans down to compete.

Bahamian Olympic gold medallist Shaunae Miller-Uibo and Trinidad and Tobago’s Kelly-Ann Baptiste and Michelle-Lee Ahye are among the overseas confirmations so far, along with Grenada’s Olympic champion Kirani James.

Great Britain’s Zharnel Hughes and Miguel Francis, and Americans Phyllis Francis, Trayvon Bromell, Mason Finley and Fred Kerley are also in the line-up.

“We are still a couple weeks away and so we are still in negotiations with other stars, but these are the persons who we have confirmed so far. But it will be competition at its best; we have quality all around in the events.

“Racers Grand Prix will be one of the most exciting events and so you miss it at your own peril. There will be great competition with great PRs (personal records) as everybody is in good shape and striving to get to the World Championships in Doha,” said Mills.

Online tickets went on sale yesterday, with physical tickets set to go on sale on June 3. Grandstand finish line tickets are $5,000, with $2,500 for the rest of the grandstand, while bleachers tickets are $500.