Tue | Apr 25, 2017

800m breakthrough

Published:Thursday | July 2, 2015 | 7:00 AM
Race winner Natoya Goule (sitting) shows her regard to Simoya Campbell for a well-run race, following the women's 800m final at the JAAA/Supreme Ventures Senior National Athletics Championships at the National Stadium last Saturday. Goule won in 1:59.63 ahead of Campbell, 1:59.92.

Until last week's National Senior Championships, Kenia Sinclair was the only Jamaican to have broken two minutes in the 800 metres on local soil. On Saturday at the Championships, Natoya Goule and Simoya Campbell joined Sinclair in an exclusive group of three in a spellbinding race.

Goule's former coach, Jerry Holness, hailed both girls and their landmark achievement.

"That is fantastic," said the former Christiana and Manchester High school coach.

Noting that it was the first race with two Jamaican girls beating two minutes, he exulted: "We have never had that before in the history of track and field."

They were timed in one minute, 59.63 seconds and one minute, 59.92 seconds, respectively. Those times established new personal bests for them both. In addition, both runners sped past the World Championships qualifying mark of 2.01.00.

Goule herself was very pleased.

"I'm really proud of myself and Simoya," she said, "Because I know we both work hard and we really want to go out there and represent well".

The former Manchester High star was bouncing back from a poor display for Clemson University at the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Championships.

Obstructed by an undisclosed personal problem, she went in as the favourite following her NCAA Indoor win in March. She faded after a very fast start.

"Some personal problems were there," she said, almost apologetically, "And I fixed that and that's why I came here and was able to run under two minutes because I could have run that before".

It was Goule's second sub-two minute run after a time of 1.59.93 in 2013. She had company all the way from former Spalding High ace Campbell. Triple Intercollegiate champion for the University of Technology, Campbell stayed with Goule through a 57.9-second first lap and only allowed a small gap in the last 200 metres.

Holness thinks the IAAF World Relays 4x800m teammates pushed each other into new territory.

"It was a good race, a competitive race and I'm hoping that this will be the start for things to come to see more 800 runners coming to the fore so they can push each other, can give each other competition so that we can produce the times here in Jamaica also," said the man who coached Jamaica's Carlene Robinson to the World Youth bronze medal in 2001.

Goule, who has been coached by national 10,000-metre record holder, Mark Elliot, throughout her NCAA career, is getting ready for her first summer as a professional athlete. Her race schedule hasn't been set yet.

"I've graduated so it's either going to be a Diamond League race or Pan-Am or some sort (of thing) like that," she guessed.

Campbell is travelling to South Korea to represent Jamaica in the World University Games.

-Hubert Lawrence