Two Stunning Jamaica Champs Records by 12-, 14-yr-old Girls

Scintillating, breathtaking, amazing, and phenomenal are just a few superlatives that describe Jamaica’s 12-year-old Brianna Lyston’s time of 23.72secs. (-0.6m/s) and that of 14-year-old Kevona Davis [above], (23.07 (0.9m/s) over 200m at the 2017 and 107th edition of the Jamaica Boys and Girls Athletics Championships (Champs), March 30 – April 2.

Lyston of St. Jago High School became the first 12-year-old girl in Jamaica high school track history to run below 24 seconds in the Class 4 (11 to 13 years old) 200m. And while Lyston was excited, her celebration was modulated. When asked why she was not celebrating as wildly as her team mates, her response was: “I have the confidence in myself, and coming to Champs, I told my coaches and friends that my goal was to become the first Jamaican female to run below 24 seconds as a 12-year-old. Yes, I feel good, but I knew I was going to do it, and my coach told me that if I set my mind to it, I could do it”.

Even though 23.72 is now the record, it was not the fastest time young Lyston has run over the half-lap at the same meet. In the qualifying heats, she clocked a blistering 23.42 with a positive wind of 2.1, just a fraction above the legal limit.

And 14-year-old Kevona Davis of Edwin Allen High is already being compared to the legendary Merlene Ottey, a former Jamaican sprint queen and decorated Olympian, primarily due to their similar athletic built and natural speed. Running in the Class 3 (14 to 15 years old) 200m finals, Davis seemed to confirm the comparison when she shattered Jamaica national representative and Olympian Anneisha McLaughlin’s 200m record of 23.11, set 16 years ago.

Davis, who was favored to take the sprint double in her division, missed out on that opportunity when she false-started in the 100m final the previous day. She entered the 200m final with a vengeance and sheer blistering speed and control and demolished the hybrid field of young sprinters in which 23.76 by Sashieka Steele, the 100m champion of Holmwood Technical High School, landed only for fourth place.

At the sound of the starter’s gun, Davis shot out of the blocks in a hurry, and as she came off the turn it was obvious that she was not only out to redeem herself, but she was also going for the record. She stopped the clock in a new record of 23.07 (0.9m/s).

Like Merlene Ottey?

Davis, who is from Richards Pen, a small district in the rural parish of St. Mary, attended Gayles Primary School, and it was there she caught the attention of the Jamaican track and field community. It was also around that time that the comparison to Ottey began. The comparison grew stronger when Davis ran a PR (personal record) of 11.43 at the March 4 Jamaica Carifta Trials in Kingston in the Under-18 Girls 100m category.

Two weeks later (15th), Davis captured the Under-18 girls 100m title in 11.62 (-1.6w) at the 45th Carifta Games in Curacao.

The performances by the two young student athlete phenomena have generated much talk that they are keeping alive the notion of Jamaica as the sprint nation of the world and a sprint factory in full production mode.