Wed | Dec 19, 2018

Hubert Lawrence | Let the good times roll

Published:Thursday | August 30, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Maurice Wilson
Tracey
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Last week's Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) signing between the G.C. Foster College for Physical Education and Sport made me look back in time. The pioneering stay-at-home club, the MVP, was launched in 1999 ,but the good times didn't really start to roll until Asafa Powell brought the electronically timed 100 metres world record to Jamaica in 2005. The Racers Track Club, now a household name, didn't sprout wings until Usain Bolt sizzled in Beijing at the 2008 Olympics.

Now, the MVP Track Club and the Racers Track both have enviable records of success and their members often see action at the Olympic Games and the World Championships. The lesson is something mothers drum into the heads of their hastily ambitious children building success takes time.

Sprintec, the club that Maurice Wilson and his team have built at the G.C. Foster College, hit the mark last year when Ristananna Tracey ran brilliantly to grab the bronze medal in the 400 metres hurdles at the London World Championships. Though Sprintec athletes had won individual medals at the Commonwealth and Pan-American Games, the Tracey bronze is a major milestone. Add that to the medals won by local-based and Fitz Coleman coached hurdler Hansle Parchment, the advance by Sprintec is proof that Jamaica can train champions at home.

It's no wonder Wilson spoke admiringly of the MVP and the Racers. He has learnt from just watching them. Now, people are probably watching Sprintec.

Tracey, World 400 finalist Demish Gaye, Pan-American Games 200 metres record holder Rasheed Dwyer, Commonwealth runner-up Anastasia Le-Roy, CAC Games 400 hurdles champion Rhonda Whyte and retired Rio relay heroine Anneisha McLaughlin have shown genuine quality, with Commonwealth 100 metres hurdles third-placer Yanique Thompson probably next in line.

Gaye is a man to watch. A late starter in sport, he has made rapid progress in a short space of time and surely has more ahead. It would be a surprise if his personal best stays at 44.55 seconds, which he produced to reach the World final last year.

Despite that, not everybody should stay where they are planted. Hurdler supreme Omar McLeod has thrived in the USA, following the steps first travelled by legendary Herb McKenley in 1942.

So have Akeem Bloomfield, Nathon Allen and Danniel Thomas-Dodd in recent times.

Some of the next set of great Jamaican female sprinters and hurdlers - speed merchants Jonielle Smith, Natalliah Whyte and Shauna Helps and 2016 World Under-20 100 metres hurdler runner-up Rushelle Burton - are taking that route right now. More are sure to follow.

The success of the train-at-home movement hasn't put a padlock on the passports of those who wish to train and study abroad. It has given them a choice, one they must make wisely.

Sprintec is encouragement for such other clubs like Cameron Blazers, Akan, Swept, Pelicans and Elite Performance. All of them have already placed athletes on national teams, with the Blazers aiding Jaheel Hyde and Tiffany James to win World Under-20 titles in 2016.

The success of the big two and the timely emergence of Sprintec send the same message Mummy gave you: building success takes time. Work hard and smart, and be patient. That combination will make the good times roll.

- Hubert Lawrence has made notes at trackside since 1980.