Brauman confident Ashmeade, McKenzie will 'step up well'
Published: Monday | December 28, 2009
Jamaica's Ramone McKenzie (right) and Nickel Ashmeade pose with the national flag after the 200m final at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Ostrava, Czech Republic, in 2007. McKenzie won the gold medal in 20.67 seconds, while Ashmeade took bronze in 20.76. - File
OVER the years, top Jamaican high schools track and field athletes have moved overseas after completing their high school careers to be rewarded with scholarships at junior colleges and universities.
For three of the country's top juniors this past season that was not the case.
Following in the footstep of Yohan Blake last year, his high school teammate Nickel Ashmeade, along with Herbert Morrison's Dexter Lee and Calabar High's Ramone McKenzie, has gone the professional route.
While Blake has continued to remain in the island, the other three have decided to go overseas. Both Lee, the defending World Junior 100 metres champion and McKenzie, a member of Jamaica's team to the Berlin World Championships this year, were still eligible to run at Champs next year.
"Both athletes have adjusted well and although this is a big step-up for them, they are handling the whole situation very well," said Lance Brauman, who coaches both McKenzie and Ashmeade.
Brauman formerly coached Veronica Campbell-Brown and he trains the athletes at the National Training Centre in Clairmont, Florida.
"These are two very accomplished high school athletes who did exceptionally well at the junior level and although there is still a lot of learning for them to do, I am very confident that they will step up well to the next level.
"We work out every day from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and they are working out on new techniques which are a lot different from what they used to do and they are learning well and they are working with a set of experienced athletes who they will learn a lot from," Brauman explained.
He added: "These athletes include Aleen Bailey, Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie, Kelly-Ann Baptiste, Shalonda Soloman, Sherise Woods, Steve Mullings, Andretti Bain, Klester Bleadman, Jamie Samuels and after recuperating from his operation, Tyson Gay will soon be back in the camp."
Brauman stated that he is looking on the long-term goals of both athletes and with next year being a low profile one on the athletic calendar internationally, he is targeting the World Championships in 2011.
"Both athletes will not compete in the Indoor season and they will be running only relay legs in mid-March before opening up individually towards the middle of April," he pointed out.
200 metre athletes
The coach thinks Ashmeade is better suited for 100-200 sprinting and McKenzie, 200-400, but noted that both will be concentrating on the 200 metres.
"Both athletes will be concentrating on the 200 metres and I see both being world beaters soon," commented Brauman.
Asked if the athletes had made the professional move too early, Brauman responded: "I do not think they have done so early as both athletes have accomplished themselves. McKenzie has competed for his country at the senior level while Ashmeade ran a couple meets on the European circuit.
"I am not saying it is too soon but time will tell as this is a process and we will just have to wait and see, but as time goes on, we will get a better perspective of things," he concluded.