Last Saturday’s Central Hurdles and Relays had an international flavour as German Julian Howard opened his 2017 season with a win in the long jump. Howard is here visiting his grandparents, but has kept in shape by training at the University of the West Indies in a group that includes 2015 World Championships triple jump finalist Shanieka Ricketts.”I’m actually more here for holidays,” he explained. “I’m trying to stay in shape.”Howard says he has really enjoyed training under the supervision of Coach Kerry Lee Ricketts.”The group is really nice. They welcomed me. (It’s a) very cheerful and good atmosphere.”For me, it was the perfect time and the perfect group to fit in,” Howard said.He has been enjoying the weather in Jamaica.”I really enjoy it, but it’s a tough situation for me, especially on a meet like today, waiting all the day in the sun,” said Howard. “I’m not used to it, but it was fun and I’m enjoying it and I wouldn’t trade or share with the coldness in Germany.”FIRST STEPWhen he goes home at the end of the month, his target will be to qualify for the German team to the European Indoor Championships. The first step will be to win in his hometown meet in Karlsruhe.Ricketts believes his visitor from Germany will reach his target.”He’s hit a PB, couple of PBs, here with us, with 11 strides,” the coach recounted. “Based on that, he should be really going into that championships in good form, in good nick.”Howard won last time with a distance of 8.03m – 1cm off his indoor personal best. That’s not far off his outdoor best of 8.07m. His winning distance at the Central Hurdles and Relays meet was 7.57m.