Roshawn Clarke, the World U20 400m hurdles record holder, is brimming with confidence as he gears up for the Velocity Fest meeting at the Ashenheim Stadium at Jamaica College in Kingston this Saturday. Clarke, who shattered Winthrop Graham’s 30-year-old national record of 47.60 with a remarkable time of 47.34 at the 2023 World Athletics Championships, is eyeing a podium finish at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris.

The 19-year-old sprinter is excited to demonstrate his current form and fitness, hinting at potentially running either the 400m or the 200m at the Velocity Fest meeting. Clarke's recent performances have been promising, with a strong 400m season opener of 46.05 on February 10 and an identical time two weeks later. He has also run a nippy 20.69 over 200m in mid-March.

"I’m running fast. I ran my first race with a personal best as a season-opener. I repeated that exact time again so I am pretty confident, I am being consistent," Clarke shared during launch of the Racers Grand Prix on Tuesday. "I am running the 400m or the 200m this Saturday so I am just going there to enjoy myself and better my season’s best."

Clarke, who will turn 20 on July 1, is determined to lower his national record and challenge the world's top athletes like world-record holder and three-time world champion Karsten Warholm of Norway, the USA’s Rai Benjamin and Brazil’s Alison dos Santos, the 2022 champion. These formidable competitors have all clocked times under 47 seconds in the 400m hurdles.

"In Paris, the big three won’t go any slower than 46 so I am stronger now," Clarke explained. "My speed is very much improved right now, probably if I contest the 200m this weekend I will probably shock myself, again and my coach with how fast I am in training."

With high expectations for himself and a focus on execution, Clarke is poised to make waves and as he fine-tunes his skills at the Velocity Fest meeting, fans and competitors alike eagerly anticipate his performance and potential for achieving new personal milestones. 

Editor's Note: It was erroneously reported that the Velocity Fest meeting on Saturday, April 20 would be held at the National Stadium in Kingston but it, in fact, will be held at the Ashenheim Stadium at Jamaica College.

Celebrated coach and Racers Track Club President Glen Mills says the value of meets such as the Racers Grand Prix cannot be overstated, given the significant role it plays in the development of the country’s young athletes in particular.

Mills’s comments came as he announced the plethora of local and international stars that are expected to set this year’s sixth edition of the Racers Grand Prix alight at the National Stadium on June 1.

Among them is American World champion Noah Lyles, who clocked a superb 19.67s to win the 200m, sharing the spotlight with Jamaica's Shericka Jackson and South African Wayde Van Niekerk last year.

He is set to line up in the men’s 100m on this occasion, alongside rising Jamaican sensation Oblique Seville, World University champion Kadrian Goldson, Great Britain’s World Championships bronze medallist Zharnel Hughes, Canadian Aaron Brown and American Kendal Williams, with two more athletes to be confirmed.

According to Mills, who was instrumental in the decorated career of now-retired Usain Bolt, having young athletes compete on home soil against world class superstars not only drives their development, but also influences positive behavioural changes towards training.

Reigning 400m World champion Antonio Watson is one such example, as he broke the 45-second barrier for the first time on his debut outing at the event last year, and he later followed that up by topping a quality field in Budapest, Hungary. 

“A meet of this level is very important in development of our athletes, and I don't think we can underscore its value in their development as a coach. I can tell you, when we have them competing here in Jamaica against the world and the fans come out and really cheer for them, it makes a difference when they return to the training field,” Mills said during the event’s launch at the Jamaica Pegasus on Tuesday.

“They know and feel the support and the energy and electricity. When that happens, we get better performances on the training track, and as you can see, it goes on to the international stage as well. So, thank you for supporting Racers Grand Prix all and I'm hoping to see everyone on June 1,” he added.

Known globally as Jamaica’s foremost track and field meet credited with showcasing many of Jamaica’s most decorated athletes, Racers Grand Prix, a World Athletics Continental Tour Silver event, promises an exhilarating demonstration of athletic excellence.

There are 13 events –men’s and women’s 100m, 200m, 400m and 400m hurdles, women’s 100m hurdles, men’s 110m hurdles, as well as the men’s long jump, triple jump and discus throw –to be contested across two-and-a-half hours of scintillating action starting at 7:00pm.

The women's 100m hurdles is headlined by Bahamas’s World Indoor champion Devynne Charlton, and Great Britain’s Cindy Sember, up against Jamaica’s Olympic bronze medallist Megan Tapper and rising Jamaican sensation Ackera Nugent.

For the men’s 110m hurdles, Jamaica’s Olympic champion Hansle Parchment will lead compatriots Damion Thomas and last year’s champion Tyler Mason, against the American duo of Trey Cunningham and Robert Dunning.

World champion Antonio Watson headlines the field for the men’s 400m, which includes Champion Allison and Nigerian NCAA champion Emmanuel Bamidele. Demish Gaye, Zandrion Barnes and Javon Francis, are the other Jamaicans confirmed.

Meanwhile, World Indoor champion Julien Alfred of St Lucia headlines the women’s 100m field, alongside Jamaica’s Alana Reid, Ashanti Moore and World Indoor silver medallist Mikiah Brisco, with four more ladies to be confirmed.

World Championships finalist Roshawn Clarke headlines the men’s 400m hurdles field, while Ireland’s NCAA Champion Rhasidat Adeleke will square off against Jamaica’s Stacy Ann Williams, Candice McLeod, Charokee Young, and Junelle Bromfield in the women’s 400m.

American Will Abbey Steiner and Trinidad and Tobago’s Jereem Richards top the list of competitors for the men’s and women’s 200m. In the field, Jamaica’s Jaydon Hibbert and American Will Claye lead the confirmed athletes for the men’s triple jump, while another Jamaican Carey McLeod, and Laquan Nairn of Bahamas, will line up in the long jump, with three more athletes to be confirmed.