Cayman athletes Chantelle Morrison, Ashleigh Nalty and Coach Tyrone recently travelled to Norfolk State University in Virginia to take part in the AAU junior Olympics.
Chantelle ran the 100m while Ashleigh did the high jump. The junior Olympics is the premier age group championship held annually over 10 days in the US with events such as baseball, volleyball, basketball gymnastics and, of course, track and field. To qualify for the Junior Olympics athletes had to finish in the top-four in their events at the regional championship which are held in various region throughout the United States. Chantelle and Ashleigh gained qualification by virtue of winning their respective events at the Florida Region 4 Championship in Tallahasse in July with chantelle taking the 100m finals in a time of 12 .21s and Ashleigh the high jump with a leap of 4 ft 8in.
First to compete was chantelle in the 100m heats as she took that event quite easily in a time of 12.96 s which meant that she would now advance to the next round
Running in semifinals 2 out of lane 5, Chantelle seemed a bit nervous at the start as she false started. However, she settled down and the starter got them of fast this time she was last to leave the block but with a powerful last 50m she came through and won the event in a time of 12.43s making her the second fastest qualifier for the finals. This set up an exciting finals with Atya Harvey who ran 12.28 to take semi final 3.
Ashleigh was next in action in the girls 12 year-old high jump. Coming into the event she was ranked #5 on the performance list and knowing this she knew only a magnificent effort would take her to the medal podium and that she did, as she jumped through rounds after rounds her confidence level grew and with the bar now at 4ft 8in and five competitors left out of the 23 that started. Ashleigh’s chance of winning a medal grew. The bar now was at 4ft 10in and it was her turn, up and over she went as one more competitor fell out now leaving four in the competition. The bar was now up to 5 ft.
With 4 girls left in the competition. Ashleigh was first to jump but she hit the bar, the first time in the competition that she would knock the bar off. But with some instruction from Coach Yen, her second attempt saw her over and she was ecstatic as two more competitors failed on their attempt at 5ft.
The worst case scenario was now a silver medal for her as only two girls were left. The bar was now up to 5ft 2 inches and again she failed at her first attempt as did Madeline Morrow. On her second attempt with a beautiful jump every one thought she was over only to the disappointment of the large crowd to see her heel drag the bar off. On the second attempt by Madeline Morrow she cleared the bar. The pressure was now on Ashleigh as she realized the gold medal was fast slipping away with only one attempt left she knocked the bar down, nevertheless it was truly a awesome performance as she not only won the silver medal at one of the highest youth level competition but she also had a personal best of 5 ft which ranks her joint #2 in the USA for 2006 in the 12 yr old girl high jump. Madeline Morrow of Ohio went on to win the event and in the process broke the USA national record with a leap of 5ft 4.25in.
The crowd was waiting in high anticipation of the start of the 100m finals. From the very first age group of under 9 boys and girls the stadium was buzzing with excitement.
Chantelle was drawn in lane 5 and having the second fastest time of 12.43s along with Atyiah Harvey from California running from lane 4 with the fastest time of 12 .28s it was truly going to be an exciting event. As they got on their marks there was a hush over the stadium and away they went with Chantelle leaving the blocks in a flash. However, she was soon joined by Atyiah and a battle of raw speed developed at the 90 meters mark. The stadium erupted as Atyiah proved a bit stronger over the final 10m to take the event in a time of 12.63s. Chantelle finished in second place with a time of 12 .80s. Both girls were expected to break the USA national age-group record of 12.10s but a head wind of -2.1m/s hurt their chances of doing so. As only 3 weeks ago in Tallahassee Chantelle was 11/100s outside the USA National Record. Chantelle is now ranked #2 in the USA for 2006 for the 12yr old girls 100m.
Coach Yen was impressed with the level of competition as well as the performance of the girls as both competed so well at the highest youth level in the USA. To attain such a result is truly an amazing performance from them.
Yen thanked British American Insurance, Cayman National Bank and Mr. Bernie Bush for helping to make their trip possible.