Jhevaughn Matherson, without doubt, is one of the most naturally gifted sprinters to ever compete at the ISSA GraceKennedy Boys’ and Girls’ Athletics Championships (Champs). His textbook technique has been admired all over by many track and field experts and fans. The Kingston College speed merchant, nicknamed ‘Blaze’ by his peers, has an impressive athletics profile to support his eye-catching running style.
In 2013, Matherson established the existing Champs record in the 100m for class 3 boys of 10.85 seconds and last year ran 10.25 seconds to set a new national youth record. *His youth record achieved at the CARIFTA trials in the under-18 division was the second fastest in 2016 and made him the 7th fastest youth athlete of all-time.
The slimly built sprinter, who is no stranger to high drama, was involved early in his Champs career in an infamous race. In 2012, competing in the class 3 400m final, Matherson was in serious contention to win gold. However, in a moment which haunted KC supporters to no end, Matherson was literally gone with the wind, freefalling agonisingly close to the finish line.
The lionhearted Matherson who does not dwell on setbacks rebounded from that heartbreak with a more calculated approach the following year reducing his workload by 50%, coming down from the 200m/400m to the 100m/200m sprints. The move proved to be a master stroke as it immediately brought greater fortunes to the talented young man who went on a purple patch. The pint-size athlete became double sprint champion in class 3 with a dominant display which saw him breaking the 100m and 200m records. Matherson ran 10.85 in the 100m and 21.87 in the 200m.
Over the next couple of years, the young KC stalwart endured the painful side of athletics as injury side-lined him from showcasing to the world his God-given talent. Matherson regrettably missed four of the biggest track and field events in 2015 – Champs, CARIFTA Games, Penn Relays and the World Youth Championships in Cali, Colombia.
Resuming his Champs career in 2016, Matherson was immediately involved in a mouth-watering 100m final for class 1 boys, which pitted him against talk-of-the town Nigel Ellis of STETHS and perennial rival Raheem Chambers of St. Jago High. It was the first time three boys with personal bests below 10.3 seconds were going up against each other in a Champs 100m final. Matherson, after being left in the blocks when the starter’s pistol went off, had to play catch up and ran creditably for the bronze in 10.35 seconds. Later that year, he won the CARIFTA U18 100m title and was a semi-finalist in the boys’ 100m (10.40) at the IAAF World U20 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
Matherson has had an auspicious start in 2017 displaying ominous form at several development meets while chalking up impressive victories from 100m to 400m. “I ran a lot of 400m this season mainly for cardio vascular strength. The other reason was to get some personal best times in the quarter-mile to help improve my 100m and 200m,” said the unflappable sprinter after an intense early morning training session on 18 March.
The 18 year-old, who loves representing Kingston College and eating jerk pork, remains on course to have a most memorable Champs outing.
“This season is one of my most confident seasons, I feel good, I’m healthy and I am looking really good in training. So hopefully it will be as good as I want it to be.”
At the recent CARIFTA trials in the under-20 division, Matherson equalled his personal best of 10.25 seconds, a repeat of his winning time at the same venue last year. Many onlookers were impressed; however, Matherson had a slightly different view. “When I compare both races, the one this year was poorer. I had a better start the previous year. Nevertheless, based on how I’m feeling now and barring any problems I think I’ll run a better race at Champs and go faster.”
Many persons are looking forward to his massive showdown with Calabar’s star athlete Christopher Taylor in the 200m at 5:40 pm on the final day of Champs. It is one of those races which will make your spine tingle and knees shake uncontrollably. Both athletes are champions in their own right and hate to lose, however, there can only be one winner. Matherson, whose personal best in the 200m is 20.97 done in 2014 before injury setbacks, says he’s now ready to fly. “My individual goal is 18 points at Champs this year and generally run some fast times.” The relaxed looking sprinter continued, “I respect all my rivals and if takes running faster than 20.5 seconds to win the 200m, I think I can do it.”
The young sprinter is cognisant of the crucial role his fans have played throughout his Champs’ career and gave assurances of making them proud. “I would like to thank my supporters throughout the years, I have always gone out there and done my best and I just want them to continue supporting me on my journey.”
*The all-time world youth list has not yet been updated with marks from 2016.