It’s Olympic year and Cayman’s top track exponents are taking every opportunity to hone themselves into shape and reach the standards to compete in Beijing in August.
One of them is Stephon Johnson, the 24-year-old sprinter and long jumper. Hampered by injury last year, he has started 2008 in fine shape and proved it at the district meet at the East End Civic Centre on Saturday.
Johnson won the 100 and 200 metres comfortably which boosted his confidence to compete in Jamaica this weekend against an international class of athletes.
Johnson won the 100m in 10.7 seconds, on grass without blocks. He was satisfied with that. ‘My preparations are on track at the moment,’ he said. ‘They’re going pretty good. 10.7 seconds with spikes for the first time on grass is not bad. I’m hoping to drop the time to 10.3 or 10.4 pretty soon which I think will be a more respectable time for an elite athlete.
‘I’ll be competing in the 100m and doing long jump in Jamaica. I’m not 100 per cent sure Asafa Powell (the world record holder) will be in that one but a high standard of competition will be there.
‘In the long jump it’s really hard to tell what sort of shape I’m in but I’m hoping to jump far, say 25ft and above. But I’ll understand if I don’t because there’s no long jump pit here for me to train in. Hopefully, I’ll be in 26ft form which is the qualifying distance for A-standard, by June.’
Johnson was with two-year-old son Stephon Jnr who he hopes will emulate dad. ‘I hope he’s going to be an Olympic athlete, if that’s God’s will.’
Track and field technical director Kenrick Williams was happy with the overall performances. ‘This was an excellent meet seeing that most of the competitors today were trying to qualify for the Carifta, the CUT meet and the Junior World Championships,’ he said. ‘All of them are here which is a good indication that they are competing in their country with the small ones and the small ones are competing with the big ones and that is really important.’
Brilliant junior sprinter Chantelle Morrison won her 100m race comfortably. ‘Her early season form is really good and Chantelle is a cut above the rest of the athletes we have here, especially the females. She’s right behind Cydonie Mothersill, our elite athlete. She’s managed properly by coach Tyrone Yen and I think she will do well.’
Joseph Suberan won the Under-19 100m in 11.4 seconds. Williams has a mixture of emotions about this prospect. ‘I wasn’t surprised by Joseph winning, it’s only that he’s lazy. He has tremendous ability but the boy probably only trained five times for this year and look at his result. From last year I’ve been asking that boy to come out and perform and this year I hope he takes it seriously. Last year he could have made the Carifta team but he refused to train and come to the trials.’
Williams expects Johnson to qualify for the Olympics, fitness permitting. ‘Stephon has been doing this for years. He has run 20.92 seconds in college and run in a 38 second relay team in college, so he has good leg speed. We just hope that this year he can make the Olympic team and also help the team make the 4 x 100m.’