Sun | Dec 8, 2019

Talent out west inspires hope among top coaches

Published:Monday | October 27, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Arieka Smith of Vere Technical and Asheka Smith of Muschett High practice baton exchanges at Saturday's Digicel/MVP Grassroots Athletics Programme Major Clinic at the Catherine Hall Stadium in St James. Contributed
Coach Paul Francis (second right) gives Shanamarie Staple (on knee) of Lacovia High some one-on-one attention in her starts during the Digicel/MVP Grassroots Athletics Programme Major Clinic at the Catherine Hall Sports Complex on Saturday.

KINGSTON: With well over 300 youngsters having received training in the Digicel/MVP Grassroots Athletics Programme, over 60 of them advanced from the first of two major clinics, at the Catherine Hall Sports Complex in Montego Bay on Saturday.

The Montego Bay major clinic followed the hosting of three pre-clinics - one in each county - which saw the athletes benefiting from training sessions with coaches from the world-renowned MVP club. Areas of training included hurdling, middle-distance running, sprinting, starts, baton exchanges, throwing events and long and high jump.

"If what I saw at this clinic is anything to go by, then I can definitely say that the future of track and field in Jamaica looks bright," expressed Paul Francis, one of the coaches.

"Out of each group that I saw today, approximately 50 per cent of them left with better technique. When these athletes get to the university level there is a lot of reform that needs to be done in terms of technique, but with programmes like this that help to lay the foundation of a good technique then we can certainly look forward to greater things in the sport," added Francis, who is also head coach of track and field at the University of Technology (UTech).

Enthusiastic participants

Corey Bennett, of Hydel High, was also encouraged by the talent.

"The kids today were very enthusiastic about the jumps. I saw very good talent, especially in the girls. I can even say that if we continue to hone this talent then there are definitely some national jumpers in this lot," he expressed.

Students were not only displaying good natural talent, according to coach Linval Swaby, the man behind history-making national shot put thrower, O'Dayne Richards.

"The students were receptive, focused and followed instructions well," said Swaby. "This allowed many of them that were doing throws for the first time to actually display some very good results. These characteristics are important to a good athlete."

At the end of the day's activities, 25 of the most outstanding athletes received training sneakers courtesy of Nike, while the top coach and male and female athletes received smart-phones courtesy of Digicel.

"When we started this programme we wanted the best coaches in the country to pass on their knowledge to aspiring youngsters, to help them to hone their skills to become better athletes," said Digicel's Marketing Director, Peter Lloyd. "The feedback from the coaches and the children are also the indicators that we need to confirm that we are in fact fulfilling our objective of unearthing and honing these young talents for a better and brighter sporting future for Jamaica."

The programme will end with its final major clinic at the National Stadium in Kingston on November 8.