'Gonz' pleased with 400m progress
Injuries may have forced former national 400 metres record holder Jermaine Gonzales to retire, but he's still watching closely, and he's pleased with the recent progress in his event. Speaking in Kingston on Thursday, Gonzales said that he's especially happy that the new crew of fast 400 metres runners are young enough to star for Jamaica for years to come.
"This is what I've been looking for over the years," he said at the launch of the 41st staging of the Preparatory Schools Championships.
"I left my mark, and I'm really happy to see the 400 coming to the forefront again."
Now the coach at Sts Peter and Paul Preparatory School, the 2006 Commonwealth Games bronze medal winner expects the Jamaican 400 metres surge to continue.
"With the guys being so young, the future is very bright, and I'm happy with what I'm seeing," he elaborated.
The advances have been made by Rusheen McDonald, who, in 2015, lowered Gonzales' national record from 44.40 seconds to 43.87, and by Nathon Allen, Demish Gaye, Javon Francis, and Akeem Bloomfield.
When Allen and Gaye reached the World Championships final last year in London, they were the first Jamaicans to do so since Gonzales in 2011, when he was fourth.
Similarly, Francis' Commonwealth bronze medal was Jamaica's first Games medal since the retired Olympian crossed the line third in 2006.
Francis is just 23, while Allen and Bloomfield are 22 and 20 years old, respectively. Gaye and McDonald, who were with Francis in the Commonwealth final last month, are both 25.
In a career troubled by injuries, Gonzales was nevertheless ranked number two in the world in 2010 by the respected US publication Track and Field News.
A World Youth and World Junior bronze medal winner, he represented Jamaica at the 2004 and 2012 Olympic Games.
In that sweet 2010 season, he sprinted past the 45-second barrier in seven different races and broke the 13-year-old Jamaican record of 44.49 held by Roxbert Martin.