André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Calabar High's Jovan Swaby walked into the high jump area on Saturday's final day of the ISSA/ GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Athletics Championships at the National Stadium wrist broken, but his spirit certainly was not.
The 17-year-old was tipped to finish second behind record holder Christoffe Bryan of Wolmer's Boys in the Class One Boys High Jump, and though he did manage to secure the silver medal and vital points for his school in its eventual title defence, Swaby's participation was at real risk after he broke his left wrist just days before the start of the championships.
Cast on arm, Swaby, who cleared 2.08m to finish behind Bryan's meet record jump of 2.19m, fractured his wrist on the Thursday afternoon leading up to 'Champs' after he fell while playing basketball during a physical education class.
However, despite having to endure excruciating pain and rework his entire approach, Swaby was determined not be denied a medal in what is his last appearance at Champs.
"It was very difficult to change my approach because of the cast, but with the help of my coach Keith Wright, it turned out great," said Swaby, who has a personal best of 2.10m. "I had to learn to bear the pain first of all. I had to learn a new swing as well because this is not my normal swing.
"I want to dedicate my performance to my coach Mr Keith Wright and Mr Michael Clarke and the entire coaching staff at Calabar - everyone on the management team," the Waterford, Portmore native added. "This is great. It's my last year coming back to Calabar. I am heading off to college, so this means a whole lot to me."
Coach Wright was of course quite pleased with his athlete's efforts and believes the youngster's courage served as a true driving force.
"His performance was great because he is fighting a lot of pain, and I have been trying to get him to deal with it at a level, so I brought him back down to about 1.60m just to build his confidence, and I am very pleased that it worked out," said Wright.
Fighting a lot of drama
"This is a tough young man. He has been fighting a lot of drama coming into the group. He started high jump clearing 1.35m at age 12, so he has been beaten over and over. He just reached a point where nothing would stand in his way," Wright added before revealing the tweaks made to limit the effect of the broken wrist and cast.
"We tried to concentrate mostly on the legs. The upper body strength is only 25 per cent of high jump. You need it, but it's mostly leg work, so we got into his psyche and told him that jumps come from his legs, and he embraced it," said Wright.