Track kids excelled in Jamaica

Cayman’s athletes competed in their first international meet of the year in Jamaica and despite many rookies, came away with encouraging performances.

Coached by track and field technical director Kenrick Williams, he took 14 members from his Hy-Tech Tigers Club to the National Stadium in Kingston last weekend.

One of the most promising competitors was Junior Hines, a 19-year-old 400 metre hurdler. Hines works full-time for the Employment Relations Department and studies business administration two days a week. He trains in the morning before work and again in the evenings. Not surprisingly he sleeps at weekends ‘and goes to church’.

He’s never won Carifta but hopes to achieve that this year which will be his last chance. ‘I think I can do it,’ Hines said. ‘I started the year very well with 54.95 seconds so basically, in the two meets before Carifta I’m hoping to get down to 52secs. In Jamaica I had the fourth fastest time overall and I’m satisfied with that. It was an open race so I was competing against seniors.

‘I used to do 800m, 3,000m and 5,000m and noticed that not many Caribbean people do that. Usually they do sprints so I decided to jump into something that we’re most famous for which is hurdles and sprint events so I quickly ditched running. Anyway, it was more painful than the hurdles.

‘It was a good switch for me because I have the background which is the endurance. I’m very short (5ft 10in) for a hurdler but I overcome that by having the endurance to keep a steady pace from my 800m days. The kick at the end and the height of jumping is my disadvantage.’

Hines believes he can emulate the great 400m hurdlers of the past. ‘When I hit the 48secs or 49secs mark then I will see how far I can go. That will be world class. I think I can get there because I’m developing daily and it’s something I continue to work on.’

Michael Johnson, 17, has a lot to live up to with a name like that. The legendary Michael Johnson dominated 200m and 400m running for a decade up till his retirement in 2000 and his world records are likely to stand for years to come. Cayman’s version is a UCCI business studies student who ran 53.02secs in the 400m in Jamaica.

‘This was really my first track meet I’ve ever been to,’ he said. ‘I’ve only just started training. I reckon I could develop into a world class athlete because I like to train hard. Coach Williams believes I can do something so that’s why I went on the trip.

‘With my name I’ve got a lot to live up to. That can scare me sometimes but I’m working on it. I’d love to be as good as he was. Hopefully, one day.’

Steven Reid, 17, is a 100m specialist. The UCCI business administration student ran 11.19secs to come second in his heat. ‘I started competing last year April,’ he said. ‘That was my second trip. I didn’t run my personal best in Jamaica but it’s still early in the season and in the next trip I’m looking to run better.’

Does he see himself emulating world record holder Asafa Powell? ‘I’ll try my best but Asafa has big shoes to fill. Going to Jamaica was my first time and it was a lovely experience. The Jamaicans looked bigger and stronger but I didn’t make that bother me. I just did what I had to do. The London Olympics (in 2012) is what I’m shooting for in training.’

Mitchell Forbes, 16, attends John Gray High School. He is a 100m, 200m sprinter and long jumper. ‘I specialize in mostly the 100m,’ he said. ‘I want to succeed as a full-time pro and think I can be the best that I can possibly be as long as I put my mind to it. If I push hard enough I will be ready for the London Olympics. I love track. It teaches you discipline and gives me a rush every time, it’s the right sport for me. I used to do a whole range, such as swimming, football, cricket and baseball but now I concentrate on track. Coach Kenrick has helped me a lot. He’s tough but scary only if you get on the wrong side of him. I go home exhausted every time.’

Joseph Suberan is another 16-year-old John Gray High School sprinter. Williams criticized him in this paper recently for wasting his talent. ‘Track is my favourite sport but I got too lazy over the summer but right now my mind is to stay on top in track and stop being lazy,’ he said. ‘Coach Williams is a good coach. Everything he said about me in the Compass was true.’

Hy-Tech Tigers took 14 athletes to Jamaica. Robert Ibeh ran the fastest 100m time of 10.7secs. Rhymiech Adolphus had the third fastest 100m in 10.92secs. Ibeh was nippy again in the 400m where he ran 50.11secs. Daryl Lashley ran a good 400m too in 51.55secs. In the women’s long jump Heidi Machel jumped 4.81 metres.

Williams thinks it was great experience for most of his squad who were competing internationally for the first time. ‘It only highlights the fact that what we need is top level competition to push these fellas to the next level,’ he said. ‘We have two age groups for the Cariftas, Under-17 and Under-20 and hopefully we can qualify both boys and girls, a total of 14 for them.

‘Stephon Johnson was in good nick leading up to these games, however he had the misfortune of running into an athlete and picked up a strain. He was courageous enough to run in the 4 x 100m team which we won and was brave enough again to long jump and he got third.’

Williams thinks that the teenage boys can mature into world class athletes. ‘These guys are really talented, especially Junior Hines. This is his second year on the hurdles and last year he ran a personal record with 53.91secs and this year he opens with 54.94secs. Hopefully, he can get his time down for the World Junior Championships. He’s also run the qualifying standard for the Carifta Games.

‘I did an interview two weeks ago criticizing Joseph Suberan. The things that has stung him into working very hard and he’s applied himself real nice.’