It has been fifty-two years since Donovan Davis on the urging of Herb McKennly, took his Kingston College track team to the Penn Relays. That year the team returned to Jamaican soil with the 4x110 yards relay championship, won with a team comprising Jim Grant, Rupert Hoilette, Ken Keyes and Lenox Miller in a record breaking time of 41.7 sec. Since that time Jamaica has “jaminated” the oldest continuous collegiate track and field meet in the United States. So dominant has been Jamaica’s performance that the meet has become an annual pilgrimage for Jamaicans, not only for those living in the United States but from as far as Canada and Jamaica; the “sprint factory” headquarters. The crowd support of the black, green and gold flag has become a center piece of Franklin Field. Some estimate that more than half of the crowd are Jamaicans and the carnival disposition that is always available in them compete vociferously with the rest of the world, in a stadium that averages around 105, 000 crazy track and field fans each year.
Jamaican fans at Penn Relays 2015
Jamaican athletes look forward to traveling to Philadelphia to display their talent every year, not only to win watches and medals but to have the international experience after a grueling high school championship back home. A few are even hoping to grab the focused eyes of US college scouts trying to find additions to their track and field teams. The cost of achieving their dreams is not cheap however but through the support of many alums, private businesses and voluntary groups, the Jamaican flag keeps flying at Franklin Field. One organization that has invested tremendously each year in the comfort and sustenance of the many athletes is Team Jamaica Bickle. With dozens of volunteers and sponsors they create the only athletic village at Penn Relays with the sole purpose of providing a home away from home for the athletes. While the project started out with assisting only Jamaicans, it has over the years included students from other Caribbean islands such as Trinidad, Bahamas, Grenada, US Virgin Islands and Barbados. While at the village the athletes are not only fed familiar food but are also given counseling and physical therapy. Some are even provided with accommodation arrangements.
Over the years Jamaican schools have won a total of 198 track races, 40 field events and are current record holders of 11 events. These results allowed Jamaican athletes to be voted "Athletes of the Meet" 27 times and the honor of being inducted on the "Wall of fame" on 13 occasions. The national teams which competes in the USA vs the rest of the world competition have also done well, winning 11 events over the last nine years, eight of which went to the women. Of note is the fact that the women's national 4x100 team is the defending champion since 2013 and their medley team has won the event for four straight years since 2008.
This year close to forty schools including Jamaican colleges will make the journey to Franklin Field again to thrill the fans, win more medals and watches, as well as show why Jamaica is the sprint capital of the world. Our team of photographers will be right there to bring you the images that dominate the championship this year again. For now we invite you to follow us through the history books to see how well the "sprint factory" has done over the years, including photos from last year’s championships. See which school have the most track and field victories, the most records, athletes of the meet awards and wall of fame inductees. Find out which athletes won "Athlete of the Meet" awards and who has the most consecutive awards in this category.