With the 2016 Olympics just around the corner, the world famous Jamaican sprinters were not available to compete at the Armory Track and Field Invitational in New York on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. However, as we say, “Jamaica no problem.” Four very talented Jamaican born sprinters, who reside in the United States (USA), answered the call, rose to the occasion and carried the black, green and gold proudly by setting a National Record in the 4 X 200m contest with the time of 1 minute and 25.69 seconds. In an atmosphere similar to Penn Relays, a vast crowd celebrated as Jamaica won ahead of USA (2nd), Dominican Republic (DR, 3rd), Guyana (4th), Trinidad & Tobago (5th), and France (6th).
The eclectic Jamaican team comprised all college graduates, including, Romel Lewis from Maryland (starter); Kevin Thompson of New Jersey (2nd leg); Rayon Lawrence of Maryland (3rf leg); and Rushane Scott from Las Vegas (anchor). They met just two days prior, practiced less than one day and ran as a team for the first time. Regardless, their baton change was flawlessly executed.
The victory was predicted by Jabba, a jockey at Irie Jam Radio, WVIP 93,5FM, during a live on-air team interview on the eve of the meet. Urging Jamaicans to come out and support the team, Jabba gushed “…every Jamaican can run. It’s not just Bolt and Shelly-Ann.” The win was also promised by veteran coach, Dalton Evans who put the team together.
Coach Evans is a former athlete of Jamaica and University of Arkansas, a member of Team Jamaica Bickle and recepient of numerous awards in New York inluding one from the Union of Jamaican Alumni Associations (UJAA). He has travelled worldwide as one of Jamaica’s national coaches and New York liaison for JAAA.
He coached this team with assistance from Louis Grant, executive vice-president of Irie Jam Media Group and a sports administrator in New York; Sanjay Ayre, three-time olympian, and trainer, Jack Hinds. Coach Evans also extends special thanks to the Armory Track & Field Association, Meet Directors Ray Flynn and Norm Sands, Director of Track & Field, Bassett Thompson, who was instrumental in taking care of the Jamaican athletes and will invite them yearly and Mike Duncan, owner of Jamaica Breeze restaurant, for daily hospitality.