CATHERINE HALL, St James — Embattled Jamaican multiple sprint relays gold medallist Nesta Carter will make a return to the track after a 17-month lay-off when he leads a powerful MVP team into today’s 39th staging of the Milo Western Relays starting at 12:00 pm at the Montego Bay Sports Complex.

Carter, the 2013 World Championships 100m bronze medallist who last competed in 2015, was earlier his year charged by the IOC for having a banned substance in his system at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, when his sample was retested last year.

As a result, the men’s 4x100m relay was stripped of the gold medal and the then world record of 37.10 seconds erased from the record books.

Carter’s handlers have since filed an appeal, and earlier this week it was announced that he is free to compete as no ban was imposed on him.

At last year’s staging, MVP without Carter, who was at the time nursing an injury, were still good enough to win the Men’s Club’s Institutions 4x100m relay here in 38.89 seconds and are expected to pose a strong challenge in their bid to retain the title this year.

Thirteen records were broken last year and the presence of a number of top athletes in the high schools and clubs could see at least an equal number this year.

The battles between MVP, GC Foster Sports College, Sprintec, University of Technology, UTech Track Club and the University of the West Indies-Mona — both male and female secitions — are expected to dominate the event.

Double Olympic sprint champion Elaine Thompson is expected to be included in the MVP team and was part of the team, along with Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, that set a new record 43.31 seconds last year. But Sprintec are expected to push them all the way.

The high school battles are also expected to be fierce among the over 50 high school teams down to compete in the five relays and 22 individual events down for competition.

National girls’ champions Edwin Allen and Kingston College will face tough competition from the likes of St Elizabeth Technical, Hydel High, Manchester High, Excelsior High, as well as dark horses Cornwall College, Green Island and Petersfield High.

There will be competition among preparatory and primary schools, but the cash pool of over $400,000 will be shared among the high schools and the clubs/institutions.

Meet director Ray Harvey yesterday pronounced all systems ready to go.

“Based on feedback we have been getting all week, we are expecting another excellent day of track and field competition from the youngest competitors to the Olympians and world-class athletes we expect to be here,” Harvey said.

“At Tuesday’s annual relay clinics for the prep and primary teams, we had a big turnout, bigger than usual, and they have their own rivalries and we are expecting keen rivalries in just about every race we have scheduled today,” he said.

The schedule starts with the sprint hurdles in all classes as well as the 400m hurdles open for both male and female, the 100m and 400m events before the start of the relays just before 3:00 pm.

There will also be competition in the long and high jumps in both sections.

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