SEVENTY Eight of the country’s top junior athletes will vie for regional glory over the next three days starting today, as the 45th staging of the Carifta Games for Under-18 and Under-20 athletes will begin this morning at the newly built Queen’s Park National Stadium in St Georges, Grenada.Jamaica will be hoping to better last year’s performance in Nevis, St Kitts, where the country’s athletes garnered some 86 medals, which included 42 gold, 25 silver and 19 bronze.Today’s opening day will see some 20 finals being contested with 12 on the track and eight in the field. The morning session will get under way at 9:00 a.m. (8:00a.m. Jamaican time) and will see some three finals being contested Under-18 girls’ high jump, javelin and discus.Zinedine Russell, who was the silver medallist a year ago in the girls’ heptathlon behind teammate, Ayesha Champaigne, will be the first Jamaican to feature today when she competes in the first of seven events the 100m hurdles at 9:00 a.m. (8:00 a.m Jamaica time).Morant Bay High’s Marcus Brown, who, like Russell, was a late addition to the team, and who was victorious at the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships in the Boy’s open decathlon, will also be in action some 10 minutes after Russell as he will be competing in the first event of the boy’s octathlon, the 100m.PRELIMACTIONThe morning session will also see preliminary-round action in the 100m and 400m, where the likes of Kimone Shaw, Dejour Russell, Jhevaughn Matherson, Nigel Ellis, Raheem Chambers, Sanique Walker, Tiffany James, Christopher Taylor and Akeem Bloomfield are down to compete.Today’s second session, which will get underway at 5:30p.m. (4:30 pm Jamaica time) with the finals of the girls’ 1500m should be a very good day for Jamaica.There will also be the finals of the 100m and 400 metres later in the evening. Both Taylor in the Under-18 boys’ 400m, and Bloomfield, who won the boys’ Under 20 event, are expected to defend their titles successfully.
The first test for the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), after the breakdown of the mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) and imprisonment of its president Lalu Prasad after conviction in a fodder scam case, is slated to come up next month in the byelection to the Araria Lok Sabha constituency in Bihar. The seat fell vacant on the death of the RJD MP Mohammed Taslimuddin in September last year. As per rules, the seat has to be filled within six months.Mr. Taslimuddin’s son Sarfaraz Alam is now a Janata Dal (U) legislator. He had fought on the JD(U) ticket as part of an understanding between the two parties. The party is now keen that he come back and contest the seat his father once held. “He [Sarfaraz Alam] is definitely one of the candidates we are considering but there are others too. We will take a formal decision once the election is notified,” RJD spokesperson Manoj K. Jha said. Mr. Alam on his part is ambivalent and is not denying that he may switch sides for the bypoll. “I believe that cadres are the actual party. I am currently in JD(U) and will take a call once I decide to fight,” he told The Hindu. In 2014, Mr. Taslimuddin had won the poll by a margin of over 1.46 lakh votes over the BJP candidate. The JD(U) candidate came a poor third in the contest. If one were to add the votes polled for JD(U) and BJP, they easily exceed RJD’s tally by over 83,000 votes. Mr. Jha disagreed that the bypoll will be a litmus test for his party or a bellwether for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. “We had won the seat in 2014 despite a Modi wave. So I am sure we shall win it once more,” he said.