By Makeda Brown, Special to TrackAlerts.Com
On January 31st, 2015 at the Queen's Grace Jackson Track & Field Meet, I had the pleasure of interviewing, Germaine 'Speedy' Gonzales, who may be considered Jamaica’s 400m king.
Gonzales bursted on the Jamaican Track & Field scene approximately 12/13 years ago with pure raw talent; when asked how he started out, he said, “sports day at high school, I ran a race and the coach thought I had talent at the time".Well boy was he right, because at the 2001 World Junior Championships Germaine Gonzales took home the bronze medal for the men's 400m in Debrecen.
In 2002 (his most productive year yet) at the CARIFTA Games in Nassau and at the CAC Junior Championships in Bridgetown, Gonzales took home the gold for both the 400m and the 4x400m relay. He also won the bronze medal for the 400m at the World Junior Championships in Kingston that same year. In 2006, at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, he secured the bronze medal for the 400m and 4x400m relay, and in 2010 at the Diamond League in Monaco, he won the 400m and ran a new personal best of 44.40s. His last major achievement was at the 2011 World Championship in Daegu where he secured the bronze medal for the Jamaican team in the 4x400m relay.
If we can recall however, Germaine Gonzales had to choose between Football at the national level and Track & Field, when asked why he chose Track & Field, he responded:
“Ah mean ahhm, I’m a person who like to work by myself, I like to depend on myself, you know I don’t like depending on other people and you know football is a team sport so you have to depend on 10 other people, you know it not just you and at the time I was doing really well at track and field, I actually made the national team the first year I ran tracks so it was really the obvious choice".
In order to ascertain whether or not some regret may have lingered, he was asked on a scale of 1-10 how rewarding has his track career been, he responded, “well, I would have to say 10, cause when I started running I would never imagine even making it as a professional athlete and this is what I have been living off, you know track & field is my life right now.”
As we got to know Germaine a little better we learnt that he had to overcome many injuries; as such, he was asked what role technology plays in the sport, how important has it been in the development of his career…
“Ah mean from you can look at the computer screen and see how the body operates and for me back in the days I had a lot of injuries.” He made reference to the fact that he had gone to the Gatorade institute in Chicago for evaluation and treatment, which was a huge plus because he was initially injury prone.
What motivated him to continue despite the injuries?
“When you believe inna your talent and you have people who do as well and have that support system adding that it’s not just a sport it is his job and life and just like a 9-5; no work equals no pay.
Why Cameron blazers?
“I was previously with racers, ah mean Bert Cameron was there as well, he has been my coach since …and he decided he was there, he was gonna do it, and I was one of the more successful athletes so he asked me to join him and I decided it was a good choice”
On a scale of 1-10 how important is it to have that interpersonal bond with your coach?
“It is very important because for me, I don’t like a dictator, somebody who is just gonna tell me what to do, he explains to me what I’m doing and I can have an input.”
“It has contributed tremendously ah mean, Jamaica is a very poor country and a lot of these athletes you know would not be able to afford even to feed themselves because you know that it’s very important to feed yourself properly…Puma has been my sponsor for 13 years and without them it wouldn’t be possible.”
Gonzales also emphasized the need for sponsorship of our young and upcoming athletes, saying they definitely need the support.
“I always say working hard although the work is hard.”