Ja ready for Commonwealth Games

The Jamaica track and field team will be at almost full strength for the XVIII Commonwealth Games to be held in Melbourne, Australia, March 15-26.

All the island’s top stars, except for sprinter Aleen Bailey, have indicated that they will be available for the Games.

Bailey is off studying in the United States after indicating earlier that she would be taking a rest from competition early in 2006.

Among those who will be in Melbourne for the Games are 100 metres world record holder Asafa Powell, 2004 Olympic Games 200m champion Veronica Campbell, world triple jump champion Trecia Smith and world junior 200m record holder Usain Bolt.

“Outside of Bailey, all the other athletes have shown a willingness to go,” confirmed track and field team manager Garth Gayle yesterday.

However, Gayle was quick to point out that only a provisional list has been submitted to the Jamaica Olympic Association, the body responsible for organising Jamaica’s participation at the Games.

“The team has not yet been ratified….we only have a provisional team. The final selection will be done within a another week,” said Gayle, who is also secretary of the Jamaica Amateur Athletics Association (JAAA).

He added that the provisional list contains 51 athletes.

The selection panel, chaired by Teddy McCook faces one difficult decision. They will be called on to cut one of four sprint hurdlers. The four among the 51 nominated are – Brigitte Foster-Hylton, Delloreen Ennis-London, Vonette Dixon and Lacena Golding-Clarke.

Ennis-London, Foster-Hylton and Dixon represented the island at the World Championships in Helsinki last year . The first two won silver and bronze medals in the event. Golding Clarke did not make the World Championships team but is the defending Commonwealth champion. Golding-Clarke and Dixon secured a Jamaican one, two at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England.

Golding-Clarke could be the one facing the axe as she finished fourth at last year’s national championships.

“All four hurdlers have expressed a willingness to participate,” Gayle said.

Jamaica’s track and field medallists at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England.

Women: Golding-Clarke – 100m hurdles (gold); Elva Goulbourne – long jump (gold); Veronica Campbell – 100m (silver); Juliet Campbell – 200m (silver); Vonette Dixon – 100m hurdles (silver); Debbie-Ann Parris-Thynes – 400m hurdles (silver); Team Jamaica – 4x100m (silver); Sandie Richards – 400m (bronze); Trecia Smith – triple jump (bronze).

Men: Michael Blackwood – 400m (gold); Claston Bernard – decathlon (gold); Team Jamaica – 4x100m (silver); Maurice Wignall – 110m hurdles (bronze); Ian Weakley – 400m hurdles (bronze).