Thu | May 19, 2022

Julien Alfred is back and on a mission

Published:Saturday | January 29, 2022 | 12:08 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer
Coach Marlon James.
Coach Marlon James.
Julien Alfred.
Julien Alfred.
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Julien Alfred of St Lucia is back and on a mission to reach the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon. That’s the word from her Jamaican high-school coach Marlon James following her sizzling indoor debut over 60 metres in Lubbock, Texas a week ago.

Alfred, a senior at the University of Texas, zipped to victory in 7.10 seconds and equalled the second fastest time for the distance in 2022.

James, who coached Alfred when she attended St Catherine High, was mightily impressed. “I was in awe. I was in shock because it’s her first race and she’s coming off a few niggles from last year. It was shocking to me. An astounding performance but I know her motivation this year. Her motivation is World Championships,” James said.

The time lowered the best mark by a United States-based college athlete from 7.19 set the previous week by reigning NCAA 60 metres champion Kemba Nelson of Jamaica and the University of Oregon. The world leader is American Marybeth Sant-Price at 7.08.

The 20-year-old equalled a personal best set in 2020 before the COVID-19 wiped the NCAA Indoor Championships off the schedule. Injuries hurt her in 2021. “So, this year,” her former coach indicated, “she’s definitely on a mission to do the best that she can do, and I think the best is sub-11. She definitely will go sub-11.”

Her lifetime best is 11.39 seconds.

Alfred, who won the Commonwealth Youth Games 100m and won a silver at the Youth Olympics during her time at St Catherine High, was well clear of American 200 specialist Abby Steiner in the 60m at the recent Red Raider Invitational.

MAINTAINING MAXIMUM VELOCITY

“She has been excellent, I would say, from she has been at St Catherine High going to about 40, 50, but her coach has been working on that top-end speed and being able to maintain that maximum velocity as long as possible,” James explained.

“I saw something in that race that tells me that she will definitely go sub-11 because she went out, the regular Julien, powerful, hard, fighting, but, when she came up out of her drive phase, she was definitely smoother than before. She looked relaxed and that’s why I think Abby couldn’t gain on her because she’s trying to master the art of relaxation after she does that brilliant drive phase,” he affirmed, saluting the work done by Texas coach Edrick Floréal.

Improvements on her 200-metre best of 22.90 seconds will fortify her finish in the 100m. “I know that her 200m time is going to come down and, with that, that will help her 100 metres as well. But we’re looking at definitely sub-11. 10.8, I know that’s there”, he specified.