Each year produces its own stars, some of whom are fortunate enough to dominate as they progress from class to class. Some stars have shined so brightly that they are still being talked about today, years after their amazing feats. Today, we flashback to eight of these stars.
Trevor Campbell – The Kingston College legend, popularly known as TC, is one of the most decorated athlete in Champs history. Competing during the ‘purple’ years (1962-75), he won two Class Championships and 14 events. He was undefeated in individual 200m, 440 yards and 400m, 880 yards and 800m races, setting new records in the 440 yards/400m and 880 yards/800m events. He was also a staple of all the relay teams. His only defeat came in a 4×440 yards relay as he ran out of gas and could only manage third.
After representing Jamaica at the 1972 Olympics, TC opted out of his final year in class 1 in 1973 to take up a scholarship at the University of Southern California. His senior career was hampered by injury and ended early. However, he is still a part of Jamaica’s athletics development as a member of the management teams that accompany our athletes to international events.
Vilma Charlton – Her class 2 sprint double led St Andrew High School to its only Champs victory in 1962. Although they lost the crown the following year, she was still doubly victorious in class 1 and her performances landed her a spot on the Olympic team at 17 years old. She made history as part of Jamaica’s first-time entry in the 4x100m relay.
Charlton won several medals at the British West Indies Championships, Commonwealth Games and Pan-Am Games. She went on to study Physical Education at Pepperdine University in California later a masters in Education. She lectures in PE at the University of the West Indies and has written a booklet entitled Helpful Hints for the Track and Field Official and co-authored the book Physical Education for Primary Schools with Edith Allen and Joyce Taylor.
Winthrop Graham – One of Jamaica’s premier quarter milers, Graham sizzled to the 400m/400m hurdles double at the 1985 Champs. The St Elizabeth Technical High student had suffered a dubious disqualification in the 400m hurdles the previous year and avenged himself by setting a new record of 51.7 seconds. He went on to win two Olympic silver medals – with the 4x400m relay team in 1988 and 400m hurdles in 1992. He also won the World Championships 400m hurdles silver and 4x400m relay bronze in 1991 and another bronze in the 400m hurdles in 1993.
Rupert Hoillett – Still a KC student, Hoilett – along with fellow students Una Morris (Kingston Tech) and Neville Myton (Excelsior) defied conventional wisdom and made the 1964 Olympic team. He was also given the honour of carrying the nation’s flag. Hoilett had made his mark a year earlier when he ran 49.3 seconds to win the 440 yards race, the first sub-50 clocking recorded in the event at Champs. He returned to anchor the 4×440 yard relay team to victory in its Champs debut. His Champs ’64 time of 49.1 seconds qualified him for the Olympic team. The next year, following the extended 64 season, his preparation was hampered by injury. Nonetheless, he defended his title in spectacular fashion, breaking the 49 and 48 second barrier to clock a staggering 47.9. However, he had run even faster just after the Games, 47.1 seconds.
Hoilett and his peers ran on dirt and grass tracks and over 440 yards, which is a little longer than the 400m. Using the yard-to-metre conversion system, his 47.9 time would be reduced to 46.4. Using the grass-to-synthetic track factor of 1.5 seconds, it would be 46.3. Only Javon Francis, Usain Bolt, Leford Green and Michael Campbell have ever run faster at Champs. With the same conversion systems, his post-Olympic 47.1 becomes 45.6. Only Francis (45 flat), Davian Clarke (45.21) and Bolt (45.35) have run faster as juniors.