Gay to open in Jamaica

Donald Quarrie, athletes liaison for the Jamaica International Invitational track and field meet, hinted yesterday that American world champion Tyson Gay could be one of the athletes in action at the 2009 renewal on May 2 at the National Stadium.

Speaking at a press launch for the sixth staging of the meet, which will provide an opportunity for the athletes to showcase their talents before competing at the 12th International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships, August 15-23, in Berlin, Germany, Quarrie said Gay, who won the sprint double at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka and who has opened his outdoor track season on many occasions in Jamaica, is likely to participate.

Quarrie, the 1976 200m Olympic gold medallist was, however, tight-lipped when asked to provide the names of other athletes who will compete at the meet.

Top athletes interested

“We have been compiling a list and we continue to receive requests from managers asking for their athletes to participate. The 100m already has seen quite a number of athletes requesting to participate,” Quarrie said at the launch held yesterday at the Hilton Kingston hotel.

He added that apart from Gay, several top athletes, including Olympic champions, have expressed an interest but it would be premature to divulge names at this time. He indicated that names of the athletes would be made available in upcoming weeks.Olympic triple gold medallist Usain Bolt and 200m gold medallist Veronica Campbell-Brown are also regular participants at the meet. Last year Bolt clocked a Stadium record 9.76 seconds in winning the 100m.

Asked whether MVP Track Club athletes who opted against competing at last year’s meet would be among those high-profile names, Quarrie used the presence of Olympic 100-metre champion, Shelly-Ann Fraser, who was also in attendance, to indicate that there might be representation from the MVP Track Club.

Chairman of the Sports Development Foundation, David Mais, one of the major sponsors of the meet, said it cost US$330,000 to stage the event last year. He mentioned that the athletes management and agents will make strong representations for increases in appearance fees and, as such, different components, including entertainment and cultural packages, will be added to make the meet more attractive.

Finding sponsors

Mais added: “In order to increase the revenue of the event we will have to look overseas for sponsors and also a deal for a television package. If we are able to accomplish this then we may be able to return to our athletes a little more than we did last year.”

Also speaking at the press briefing was chairman of the organising committee and president of the Jamaica Amateur Athletic Associa-tion, Howard Aris. He said they were trying to make links with meets in Europe and the United Kingdom to see how they could become a part of their calendar.

It was revealed that tickets will go on sale on April 29, three days before the meet, and will be priced reasonably to help boost spectator support.

Finish-line tickets will cost $2,500, finish area $2000, grandstand (A) $1500, grandstand (B) $1,000, while bleachers will go for $400. Tickets will be available at the Hilton hotel, the National Stadium ticket office, SDF and outlets to be confirmed in Ocho Rios and Montego Bay.