Sat | Jan 20, 2018

Redemption for St Jago in 4x800m

Published:Saturday | March 4, 2017 | 12:17 AMRaymond Graham
St Jago High's Leon Clarke (top) is surrounded by teammates after he pilotted his team to victory in the 4x800 metres for high school boys at last Saturday's Gibson McCook Relays.
St Jago's 4x800 metres anchorman Leon Clarke (second right) collecting the baton from teammate Joel Jean Pierre during last Saturday's Gibson McCook Relays at the National Stadium.

One of the most talked about events going into last Saturday's 41st Gibson McCook Relays was the 4x800 metres open for high school boys. Defending champions St Elizabeth Technical were out but a close battle was expected among Kingston College who were in terrific form, Calabar High, Jamaica College and St. Jago High.

St Jago's Leon Clarke lost a commanding lead and his school was beaten by STETHS last year. This year he wanted to make amends. Joel Jean Pierre, Keenan Lawrence and Clarke along with newcomer to the team, Anthony Cox, were determined to go one place better.

It was close going on the first leg as Cox gave them a slight lead ahead of KC but it was Lawrence on the second leg that put the team in a commanding position. Pierre maintained that lead to give Clarke another big lead. This time, however, he would not be beaten. He pulled away from his rivals for a convincing win in 7:32.76 to beat the two-year-old record, 7:33.87 which was held by KC.

Lawrence said they wanted to win to give Pierre, now in his last year, a grand send off.

"When I got the baton in first place I was determined to extend the lead as I wanted to ensure we won the race for John Pierre," said Lawrence.

Clarke said he went into the event very confident.

"I got the baton in a similar position like last year. I knew that the coaching staff had confidence in me as I was allowed me to run in the same position and I am happy I was able to redeem myself," he said.

John Leiba who ran the distance programme at St Jago for many years before he gave it up some time ago was really happy with the performance of the team.

"Three years ago some old students asked me to come back in the programme and get involved and the results over the period is a culmination of the hard work. We have had the three fastest times at the Penn Relays despite other teams winning the event over the years and I am happy that Michael Williams is also back to help with the programme. He has been motivating Clarke and he is very confident that the young athlete can break Neville Myton's national 800m junior record", said Leiba.

Williams who flew down from New York for the Gibson McCook Relays was happy with the team's win.

"Last year I spoke to Clarke and gave him instruction how to run the race but he did not go through with that and I was determined to come back this year and motivate him once again , as before the race I told the boys that they are already winners and all they had to do was just stick to the plan and keep out of trouble," said Williams.