Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Follow The Trace | The brave fell

Published:Tuesday | April 4, 2017 | 4:00 AM
Christopher Taylor crosses the line for Calabar High in the 4x400m relay final as the Red Hills Road-based school claimed their sixth straight ISSA-GraceKennedy Boys Championships title.

Title favourites Kingston College (KC) failed to live up to their famous school motto "the brave may fall but never yield" by falling and eventually yielding in their unsuccessful bid to unseat defending champions Calabar at the 2017 ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Athletics Championships on the weekend.

In one of the most epic Champs battles of all time, Calabar showed the poise and class in the critical moments that were worthy of champions on their way to securing a sixth straight hold on the Mortimer Geddes Trophy, but it was equally that Kingston College underperformed and wilted under the pressure after all the pundits agreed that it was their Champs to lose, and lose it they certainly did.

The narrow three-point margin, and all the unpredictable variables, including the pivotal injuries to Kingston College star man and team leader Jhevaughn Matherson, as well as top Class Two man Wayne Pinnock, all played a part. However, in the end, it was as much the championship mettle of the Calabar coaching staff led by the guru Michael Clarke, alongside his battle-hardened group of athletes, that once again set the champions apart.

This entire generation of Calabar athletes simply do not know what it is to lose this title. The feeling of champs defeat is foreign to this group, and they were willing to fight tooth and nail to avoid that feeling. Confidence and focus are also pivotal to sports performance. Calabar, at no point during this season's twists and turns, took their eyes off the prize.

 

Lack of confidence

 

Conversely, this Kingston College crop does not know what it is like to lift that trophy. With that uncertainty come doubts and a lack of confidence, which, in the end, cost KC another Champs they should have won.

Clarke took the entire Kingston College staff to school with some super strategic and tactical moves that severed the head of the snake and totally shifted the balance of power midway the championships.

 

Blistering pace

 

That decision to have the two Calabar runners in the Class Two 1,500m put the race at such a blistering pace effectively took the popular Ugandan Aryamanya Rodgers out of his comfort zone. To score a decisive points and psychological victory over the purples sucked the energy and confidence out of their athletes. With that damage done, the pre-championship title favourites and their droves of fans were sent scampering for all the mathematical possibilities, which never added up in the end.

It is difficult to do any kind of credible post-Champs analysis without factoring in the additional motivation that the Calabar team must have received from the fact that they had been written off by almost every single local pundit before a single race was run. This columnist went as far as to predict confidently a 70-to-100 point defeat of Calabar at the hands of Kingston College. These public pronouncements must have added an extra motivational pep or two in the step in every single Calabar athletes.

The Rodgers controversy must have also fanned the Calabar flames significantly as the way the saga unfolded, with Calabar emerging as the villains that hated Kingston College and Rodgers. All that drama must have fired up the Red Hills Road team to emphatically show us all that we should never ever underestimate the heart of a champion.

Additionally, it could be argued that poetic justice took its course as too much conjecture and too many unanswered questions abounded relating to the participation of Rodgers at Champs. In the end, "God was fully awake" as the famed Purples fell and yielded.