Wed | Aug 16, 2017

Clarke ‘proud’ of charges in transition

Published:Monday | August 29, 2016 | 8:00 AMShayne Fairman
Coach Michael Clarke being interviewed at the Norman Manley International Airport on his arrival home from the Rio Olympics.

Calabar High School track and field coach Michael Clarke describes it as "a proud moment" and "humbling, yet honourable" experience to again work with a number of his former high-school athletes who represented Jamaica at the recently concluded Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Clarke, who is one of the most successful coaches in local high-school athletics, was also a member of Jamaica's coaching team to the Games.

He said there were about four to six of his former Calabar charges on the team, adding that from his Akan Track Club base here in Kingston, there were men's 4x400m silver medallists Peter Matthews and Javon Francis.

"It certainly is a proud moment for the school, for the persons who are integral to the track team at the school and it extends to me, a proud moment, humbling, and honourable moment," Clarke said of the athletes he continues to work with from high school to the highest level.

The veteran coach says Jamaica's 11-medal haul, consisting of six gold, two silver and three bronze medals, was a big feat.

"It's the second-best medal haul in the history of Jamaica's participation at the Olympics, it's a young team. It's a team that is divided by athletes who are on their way out and those athletes who are emerging, so I think it augurs well for future performances," Clarke continued.

"Naturally, the aim is for upward exposure and opportunities so that they can realise their own ambitions track-wise and contribute to all the traditions and glory of the country," he pointed out.

CHALLENGES FOR SOME

"Some of them have made the transition quite easily. Others are still having a bit difficult with challenges and trying to make the adjustments, but they are being patient so far," continued the coach.

With the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) set to scrap the World Youth Championships next year, Clarke feels up-and-coming Jamaican athletes can thrive at different competitions.

"It (scrapping World Youth Championships) won't provide the kind of exposure that they would normally have at that Under-18 level, but there are other meets here, there are other regional meets. World Juniors is still there and our local competition is reasonably intense enough to model the intensity of that cohort and the benefits to be accrue from it."