Leighton Levy, Gleaner Writer
Mathue Tapper has always been a huge fan of Asafa Powell, Jamaica's former 100-metre world record holder and now the fourth-fastest man of all time.
Just recently, the 18-year-old student of the University of Technology (UTech) became an even bigger fan after meeting his idol and winning a pair of running spikes autographed by celebrated sprinter. The young man was among thousands of fans from all over the world who chatted with the star athlete during a recent social network event arranged by telecommunications provider LIME.
Tapper, who is studying sports management at UTech and intends to be the youngest-ever sports manager/ agent in Jamaica's history, expressed gratitude to LIME for enabling him to meet his sporting idol and receive the autographed pair of shoes.
"I think it was an excellent opportunity, it's definitely motivating getting to meet the great man himself," he said. "I've been an Asafa fan for as long as I can remember."
At this summer's Olympics Games, the 29-year-old Powell suffered an injury in the final of the men's 100 metres and finished last. Tapper reveals that he was very disappointed that his favourite athlete was unable to finish among the medals.
"I was very disappointed almost to tears," he said. "I know he could have done it (won a medal) but unfortunately it didn't happen. The Olympics are not his thing but I am still proud of him."
Following Powell's exit from the Olympics his fans across the globe, through the social networks Facebook and Twitter, had many questions, and Tara Playfair-Scott, head of Television and Entertainment at LIME, wanted to facilitate them with answers about the athlete, his injury and his future. She reveals that she contacted Powell, who has been a LIME ambassador for several years now, with the proposal to undertake the social network chat with his fans, and he agreed. Still, Powell's fans from 80 countries, mainly from Europe, logged on to hear what the sprinter had to say and sent questions via Facebook and Twitter.
Closer to home, fans were also asked to post a picture of themselves in their running shoes at one of Powell's training sites. Tapper took a picture of himself, several in fact, at Stadium East where Powell trains and ended up winning the prize and a much-anticipated meeting with the man who has run under 10-seconds more times than anyone else.
"I am ecstatic, I am very excited," said the youngster, who described Powell as being a lot more jovial than he seemed from afar. "Powell was the one who paved the way for people like Bolt and Blake," he said.
Meanwhile, Tapper, a past student of Wolmer's Boys' School, wants to pursue his career as a sports agent, and believes that Jamaicans are not taking enough advantage of the opportunities that are available in the business side of sports. He made reference to Paul Doyle, an American, who manages several of Jamaica's star athletes, including Powell, and asked why the athletes are not being managed by Jamaican agents. He also intends to compete at the Olympics in 2016, most likely in the 400-metre hurdles.