By Robert Taylor, Special to Trackalerts.Com
The high school calendar for athletics is about to be close for the season. Of course there is Penn Relays and world youth championship but world youth is for representing one country instead of one school. I look back on this season with awe, questions and wonder.
I look and think of the various students shouting and cheering for their schools, the number of high school athletes performing and the quality of training these kids received. It shows the great quantity and quality of the Jamaican high school coaches. Many give credit to GC Foster Sports College and whoever came up with the idea of a Sports College should be enshrined with a statue at the school entrance.
This Champs like others before it, provided great excitement and entertainment. I would say Akeem Bloomfield of Kingston College 44.93 was the performance of the meet. To think that this is his first season running the 400m. Last year we were talking about Javon Francis 45.00 performance. The other noteworthy performers were Michael O’Hara, the winner of four gold medals and running that blistering second leg on the mind boggling 39.08 4x100m relay team.
I would say this rank very close to the Bloomfield performance. Special mention must go to Christopher Taylor of Calabar who won the 200m, 400m and anchored the 4x400m record setting team and Jaheel Hyde of Wolmers for breaking his own 400mh record with a time of 49.01. The quality of the boys 400m gives hope to many when looking at the future of Jamaica track and field. Congrats to Calabar and head coach Michael Clarke for putting out a well-conditioned and prepared team.
I am looking forward to next year where we might see the first class 2 sub 40 seconds over the 4x100m, the 4x400m Jamaica junior record (3:04.06) falling to a high school team and the 400m records falling in all classes. These are bold predictions but what I saw this year tells me mere possibility is not the word, most likely it will be.
At this year Champs things were exciting, tense and stunning all in one and I hope it remains this way. I am hoping with success we do not see the consistent ugliness that success sometimes creates. I hear the term “national treasure” being passed around when describing certain high school athletes and I think this is in some ways true but be careful because at the end of the day these kids should be student first and athlete after.
There are many more falling at the foot of the mountain than those who reach the summit. Journalist turning up unexpectedly to see young teenagers without parental consent should not be acceptable. Speak to the coach, he is the adult. Giving young athletes too much publicity might cause some to buy into the hype of how great they are and in the end see no need to concentrate on school work because successful professional athletics is a given.
All in all, I see the continuation of the great tradition of Champs. We saw records go and next year I expect the same. I hope the long standing success do not create an environment that negatively affect the young athletes in how they perceive themselves as students with athletic skills instead of seeing themselves as athletes who do not need a strong academic achievement. This is what ISSA, the ministry of education, the press and adults who are advising these kids should take seriously.
A child should be made to understand that great high school performances will not always translate to great professional athlete. The young athlete should be drilled with the notion that pursuing a dream with zeal is good but make sure the full educational experience is not laid by the wayside, pursuing both is always the best way in life.
This was a wonderful Champs and the results speak for it. We might see some of the high school athletes at the senior championship trials in June and I have no doubt that some will make the team. This is a testament to the quality coaches and the talent level in Jamaica high school system. Next year, the great tradition will continue and I look forward to see how much of my expectation/prediction is fulfilled.
**The views expressed in this article are those of the author (Robert Taylor) and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, TrackAlerts.Com