Close up image of a girl running in a marathon

A Case of Gender Disparity at Champs ’23

It was only the second day of the 113th annual ISSA Grace Kennedy-sponsored Jamaica national Boys and Girls High School Track and Field Championships (better known as Champs) when arguably the greatest history was made since its inception.  

It was truly historic when for the first time in the 113 years of Champs that a Class 1 (Ages 16 – 19) boy and a Class 1 girl run a sub-10 and sub-11 seconds, respectively in the 100 meters. Bouwahjgie Nkrumie, 19, representing his high school, Kingston College (KC), became the first Jamaican high school athlete to run under 10 seconds over the distance on Jamaica soil, clocking a fast 9.99secs (+0.3 wind). It was a personal best (pb) and suffice it to say, a new Champs record. 

However, it was 18-year-old Alana Reid of Hydel Academy High School (in photo above), who first electrified the spectators and heightened the crescendo of the noise level in the Jamaica National Stadium. She entreated with scorching and deft speed and stopped the clock in the girls 100 meters at a sensational 10.92secs   

Reid, who according to her mother in a media interview, is tentatively scheduled to continue her academic education and athletic career at the University of Oregon in the US, shattered two major records with her historic performance. Her 10.92secs performance broke the 22-year-old Champs record of 11.13secs set by the legendary Veronica Campbell-Brown (VCB) in 2001 and the Jamaica National Junior Record of 10.95 held by Tina Clayton, the current World Junior Girls 100-meter Champion.  

After both races, the media, dignitaries, and many other luminaries in attendance, all swarmed the track to congratulate the record setters.  But in a glaring show of disparity, they all rushed pass Reid (waiting on the track to take a picture with her fellow record breaker) as if she were not there and swarmed around her male counterpart, Nkrumie.  It was quite a while after the excitement subsided, some dignitaries such as the prime minister, Andrew Holness, and his entourage greeted and congratulated her. 

The irony of this kind of behavior is not new, even though it is the female athletes who are and for several years have been shining more light on the sport in Jamaica. 

Special Congratulations  

Special congratulation to Cedricka Williams of Holmwood Technical High School who impressed with a new Champs record discuss throw of 57.84 meters (189’ 9”). 

Congratulations to Kingston College (KC) for notching their 34th overall Championship and especially to Hydel Academy High for winning their first Championship.  

Special kudos to St. Jago High School students and supporters in attendance at Champs who stayed back to clean up the area they occupied in the National Stadium. This is something more teams and supporters should emulate. 

-Anthony Gayle