JAM | Mar 24, 2023

Fun Facts about ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Championships

Vanassa McKenzie

Vanassa McKenzie / Our Today

Reading Time: 3 minutes
ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ championships 2022. (Instagram: @issasportsja)

As students from rural and Corporate Area high schools gear up for this year’s staging of the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships, set for March 28 to April 1 at the National Stadium In Kingston, there are some fun facts that you should know about the premier high school track-and-field event.

The inaugural track-and-field event, dubbed Champs and organised by the Inter-Secondary Schools Association, is a launching pad for young athletes to display their athleticism and gain international recognition from track-and-field scouts, both locally and internationally.

Champs, the bedrock of Jamaica’s athletic success

ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Championships 2022. (Instagram: @issasportsja)

Jamaicans flock to the National Stadium annually to indulge in four days of thrilling competition on the track and in the field. The event, which started out as a Boys’ Championships, was first held in 1910 at Sabina Park.

The event was formally known as the Inter-Secondary School Championship Sports.

It started out as a sports day event for six of Jamaica’s oldest boys’ schools – Potsdam School (now Munro College), St Georges College, Jamaica College, the Wolmer’s School, New College and Mandeville Middle-Grade School ( now Manchester High School).

The first Girls’ Athletics Championships dates back to early 1914 in Kingston. After going through a series of changes, the event re-emerged under different organisations in the 1940s, 1957, and then 1961.

The Girls’ event later came into full swing after being managed by the Games Mistresses Association (founded in 1963) a national organisation of physical education teachers led by presidents including Joyce Taylor, Barbara Jones and Joan Lloyd-Hudson.

In 1999, the boys’ and girls’ championships were merged into a five-day event with athletes competing in four age classes for girls and three for boys.

William Cowper

The Inter-Secondary School Championship Sports, now ISSA/Grace Kennedy Boys and Girls’ Championships, was first chaired by William Cowper, headmaster of Wolmer’s. The governing committee which managed the competition was comprised of headmasters of the six boys’ schools.

Biggest track and field event involving high school students

ISSA/Grace Kennedy Boys and Girls’ Championships 2022. (Instagram: @Issasportsja)

The ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Championships is by far the largest high school track-and-field event of its kind both in the region and globally.

Several of Jamaica’s greatest track-and-field talents, such as Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and Veronica Campbell Brown, started out at the Boys and Girls’ Championships level before achieving international recognition.

Championship wins

ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Championships 2022. (Instagram: @issasportsja).

Since the start of the boys and girls’ championships, only 16 schools have ever won a boys’ or girls’ championship.

St Hilda’s Diocesan High School in St Ann was the first school to win the girl’s championship (1957).

For the boy’s championship, Kingston College (1962–1975) has the most wins while, on the female side, Vere Technical has won the most times in a row (1979–1993).

Excelsior High School and St Jago High are the only schools to have won both boys’ and girls’ divisions at Champs.

Edwin Allen High School is the current girls’ championship title holder (2014-2022) and the boys’ championship holder, Kingston College.


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