He is an amazing sprinter, and if you blinked you would have missed it. This still very young sprinting enigma, whose running technique is still evolving, learned from his past mistakes. After all, his celebrating before the finishing line cost him a more spectacular result. Then he had an inexplicable false start, which denied him a certain gold.
He stunned me and others who are either experts or real supporters of Jamaican track and field. This child prodigy, who holds the record as the fastest 16-year-old in Jamaica's sprinting history, has more to show the world. Just wait until next championships.
Sadly, only a small core of 'trackoholics' saw the hair-raising ignition of the track as he powered through his drive phase, got into overdrive, kept his knees up and held his form like a traveller going through Immigration and Customs. When the clock stopped, the stadium was abuzz as colourful pieces of Jamaican fabric were quoted, punctuated with words and bolts of material which fell so fast, they could bomb a cloth store.
However, most of Jamaica missed this bolt of lightning. You probably think I am speaking about Usain St Leo Bolt, who bedazzled us in 2002 with his national junior record of 20.50 seconds, a time which many senior sprinters - Jamaicans and foreign alike - still can't run. I am not even speaking of Bolt and his 19.93 set as a 17-year-old.
Nor am I referring to Yohan 'The Beast' Blake, who is the youngest 100 metres World champion in history, or his St Jago schoolmate, Nickel Ashmeade who, at 22, is just running the 200 metres times Bolt was running as a 17-year-old.
Who occupies my attention and has the fixity of my admiration is rising teen star, Jevaughn Minzie, from the low-profile non-traditional track and field school, Bog Walk High.
Minzie, who turns 17 in three weeks, ran a blistering 10.28 seconds for the 100 metres at our national youth trials on June 16, which is faster, in real terms, than the wind-assisted 10.24 run by World Youth Olympic champion 18-year-old Odean Skeen on the same day.
Bandwagon 'R' Us
It was easy for the majority of persons who overloaded the bandwagon to fit into the grandstand over the past four days to miss it. Why? Because they are simply not real supporters of Jamaican track and field athletes and athletics. For the two days of the National Junior Championships on June 16 and 17, the grandstand had so much space that one could read the numbers on the majority of the seats. The vacancies in the stands allowed for the amplification of sounds. The truth is, track and field does not have as large a following as one would think, because only on the marquee occasions do we see most of the piggybackers.
It is a similar phenomenon regarding the annual high schools' championships, affectionately referred to as 'Champs'. The majority of the purple-, dark blue-, green and black- or other colours-clad two-day migrant to the stadium on the last days are not regular attendees at the myriad track meets. Nor do they visit the schools and assist with the welfare of student athletes.
As big as they are, the UTech Classic, the UWI Invitational and the Grace Jackson Invitational are at best routinely only modestly attended. For at least one of them there is more bleachers space than at a Passa Passa dance. Other meets like the Howard Jackson Relays in St Thomas get local support but not enough national attendance. Thankfully, the Milo Western Relays in the new stadium at Catherine Hall gets decent support. However, only bona fide track enthusiasts attend the grass track meets at Kirkvine, St Elizabeth Technical or Jamalco.
For that reason, athletes like Spaulding's Simoya Campbell are surprises and the countless Holmwood stars, like McLaughlin, Sutherland, Wilkins, and Gordon, were missed by the 'hurry-come-upper' in their earliest years.
Similarly, the just-comers, who apparently had inside access to the early tickets for the recent trials, normally diss, or simply ignore, the GC Foster Classic, if they know of it at all. This meet was where Asafa Powell became the first person to run 9.9 on local soil, and there was lots of space on the sidelines to see it because only the lovers of athletics were there. Furthermore, GC is one of the biggest reasons Jamaica's track and field has now stepped up to the next level. But those who reap the corn don't know.
the race to watch
On Friday last, all eyes were on Jamaica and the second most anticipated race of the year was run. With a sprinting pedigree of the most sub-9.9 100 metres sprinters in the world, doubtless, this was the race to watch, and it was absolutely worth it. However, as with the 'bush league' meets, but with an ironic twist, not many track and field fans saw it on location. The stadium was packed with neophytes, who suddenly got struck by a Bolt of lightning in 2008 and displaced the dedicated fans who braved rain, mud, sand flies and the draft blowing inside the empty stadium to watch as many local track meets as possible. These few who watched the CARIFTA trials and Minzie's heroics were not surprised.
Something is fundamentally wrong with local fans not being able to have access to the stands that they habitually attend and take shame out of the eyes of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA). Minutes after tickets 'went on sale', all season tickets were sold out and nothing was available for Friday. Of course, people could get bleachers access.
The truth is, the core supporters don't mind going to the bleachers. Nonetheless, when they follow the normal procedure and are left out in the cold, it is unjust, especially when individuals who barely know where the finish line is are sitting in the stadium asking, "Who is Lerone Clarke or Traves Smikle?"
Nostalgia has its place, but one can't help missing the days of Teddy McCook and Howard Aris. While it's true that things might have just dramatically changed in the past year because of external factors, there is the temptation to think that something untoward happened internally.
Pardon my administrative ignorance, but couldn't someone anticipate that the demand for grandstand seats would be so much more than the 5,000 on offer? And given the sizeable hats worn on the head of the JAAA and Sports Development Foundation, who clearly can multi-task and sees no conflict of interest, is it not possible that a temporary overflow, covered stand could be put in place in the 'KC' section of the bleachers, and create an 'extension grandstand'?
For the thousands of faithful track and field supporters who have consistently spent their money to attend the most meagre of JAAA meets, this is an insult and a betrayal. In Jamaica, we say, "Parson christen him pickney fuss." This disenfranchisement of the hard-core fans shows the ugly face of sports administration in Jamaica. Yet, when next they have a low-profile meet and they want attendance, I hope they remember that 'a no one time monkey want wife'.
Dr Orville Taylor is senior lecturer in sociology at the UWI and a radio talk-show host. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.