André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Mills says Racers Club's Olympic exploits unrivalled
After watching his Racers Track Club athletes romp to five medals out of six in male sprints at the Olympic Games in London a few weeks ago, club president and head coach Glen Mills is making no bones about the effectiveness of the programme, giving credence even to his own merit as the best sprint coach in the world.
Racers stars Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake finished one-two in the 100m final, while first-year 200m pro Warren Weir joined the pair on the podium for the half-lap event's medal presentation - a clear mark of dominance by the University of West Indies-based club.
The performances of his sprinting corps - which also includes 4x100m relay gold medallist Kemar Bailey-Cole, who anchored Jamaica in the heats in London, and the fast-rising Jason Young, who capped his season with an impressive 200m run of 19.86 on the circuit have Mills sporting a big smile and even more assured of his own acumen and in the work being carried out at the club.
"This is our greatest year at the Olympics. The last Olympics, the club relied on the exploits of Usain (Bolt), but this year we were able to not only get his exploits, but to add significantly to it and to achieve some superlatives which underline the quality of our programme at the club. And if I may say so, it's undoubtedly the best sprinting programme in the world," said Mills.
But what of the talk of him being the best sprint coach in the world?
"The credential of the athletes speaks for itself. I have been checking the history books, but I don't know of any coach who has gotten five of the six medals in Olympic sprints," he offered, before a wry smile and chuckle.
Mills, who returned to the island yesterday with a number of his athletes, including Blake, Weir, Bailey-Cole and 4x400m relay bronze medallist, Rosemarie Whyte, was fêted at a special welcome reception at the hospitality lounge of the Norman Manley International Airport.
Also in the group were Olympic 110m hurdles bronze medallist, Hansle Parchment, triple jump finalist Kimberly Williams-Young, Ristananna Tracey and Allodin Fothergill, along with members of the club's support staff, as well as athletes' agents and managers.
Mills, in the meantime, said that he was not surprised at his athletes' showing in London, but made special mention of Weir and Bailey-Cole.
"For me, I don't get surprised, because I coach them, and so I have a good idea what to expect, but certainly Weir's performance would probably shock the world, but we knew that he was capable," said Mills. "Last year he was injured twice and didn't get a chance to show the development he had made.
"Bailey-Cole, we think the world of him, and we think that he is possibly the next big one, and I think he is going to run fast in a hurry ... . It continues and we have a few more to come," Mills added.
The occasion was also used by minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for sport, Natalie Neita-Headley, to announce that the Government will host a special celebratory event for the athletes, during the Heroes weekend in October.