Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Dr Paul Wright: Manage special talent

Published:Tuesday | March 22, 2016 | 3:00 AM
STETHS' Junelle Bromfield.

The greatest show on earth (for children) is over.

The Boys and Girls' Athletic Championships (Champs) lived up to its billing and pre-Championships hype.

I estimate that more than the reported maximum capacity of 30,000 people were in the National Stadium for the final day on Saturday, April 19, 2016.

The talent on show over the previous five days proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jamaica is indeed the 'Sprint Capital of the World'.

However, the female standout of the Championships, Junelle Bromfield of St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS), cannot be described as a "sprinter".

The remarkable Jamaican child ran in the preliminaries and finals for the girls 400 metres, 800 metres and 1500 metres, before anchoring her team to victory in the 4x400-metre relay final on Saturday night.

For those who came in late, Miss Bromfield ran (and won) the 1500-metre race on Friday, then the 400-metre final on Saturday afternoon, completing the distance in 51.74 seconds, the fastest time for a Junior in the world this year.

She returned to the track two hours later to win the 800-metre finals, capping the day with anchoring her team to victory in the 4x400-metre relay finals!

This 18-year-old from STETHS is not only an athletic phenom, but impressively, she is also a medical marvel.

Having exhausted the source of energy (carbohydrate stores) day after day, she obviously replenished those stores enough to complete the demolition of all her rivals in winning race after race and earning four gold medals.

The only problem now is what next? What will happen to this young Jamaican star when she transitions to racing against adults?

Unfortunately, previous middle-distance stars from Champs have not gone on to victory (and glory) at the world (adult) level.

 

Burnout kills performance

The reasons for this lack of success in the adult middle distance world varies from genetics to burnout.

Genetics because of the preponderance of fast-twitch fibres in muscle biopsies of Jamaican athletes and burnout because of poor handling of these teenage stars on transition to adult competition.

Maybe, just maybe, a 'Junelle Bromfield National Project' can correct this glaring anomaly.

That project would entail the burying of egos as the nation unites spiritually and financially in managing and preparing this rare talent for world supremacy.

I suggest that the start would be allowing her to concentrate on the 800 metres alone, as that is where her best chance for international glory lies.

Then what about the Class Two phenom, Christopher Taylor?

This remarkable young man ran a jaw dropping 20.8 seconds in the 200-metre preliminaries (a record), 46.33 seconds in the 400-metre preliminaries, another record, going on to win gold in both finals.

He then ran a leg in Calabar High's victorious Class Two 4x100-metre relay, before capping off the night with a relay leg for the ages, anchoring his team to victory in the Open 4x400-metre relay finals.

 

LATTER WIN

This latter win came in spite of an unofficial 400-metre split time of 44.5 from Class One 400-metre champion, Akeem Bloomfield of Kingston College.

Taylor ran an unofficial split (hand-timed) of 45.3 seconds, as he bided his time for his devastating final kick in the last 100 metres.

Taylor has run faster times than the world's greatest sprinter, Usain Bolt, at a similar stage of his career. Let us handle him with care.

Finally, congratulations to Asafa Powell on his silver medal in the World Indoor 60-metre final on Saturday. Unfortunately, once again, the rounds took their toll.

So far, changing coaches has not made much of a difference.

An Olympic gold medal would silence those who remember the words of the great Stephen Francis: "No athlete who leaves my camp improves his/her times."

We (Jamaicans) are blessed with athletic talent. Champs 2017 cannot come too soon.