Wed | Dec 6, 2023

200m key for Alfred this year, says former coach

Published:Tuesday | January 24, 2023 | 1:20 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer
Coach Marlon James.
Coach Marlon James.

As St Catherine High School coach Marlon James headed for the exit after the ONDIRUN Sprint Fest at the GC Foster College of Physical Education on January 20, he predicted good things in 2023 for the star graduate of his programme, Julien Alfred. Less than 24 hours later, Alfred blasted a world-leading time over 60 metres.

Competing in the sprint friendly 1500 metres altitude of Albuquerque, New Mexico in the United States, the St Lucian hit the line in 7.02 seconds, bedecked in the burnt orange of the University of Texas to lower her one-year-old NCAA record of 7.04.

“The sky’s the limit. I’m seeing 10.6 this year. The 200m is not a prime event for her but I think she’s going to get down to low 22s. I’m seeing low 10.6 for her,” he assessed.

Alfred set a lifetime best of 10.81 seconds in 2022.

Speaking from a coach’s perspective, James said, “The finish has always been her Achilles heel, but the 200m will give her that last 20 metres, that last 30 metres, keeping those knees up, staying relaxed. She will fly through the line.”

Coached at Texas by speed expert Edrick Floreal, Alfred won gold at the NCAA Championships and silver at the Commonwealth Games.

With the likes of Edwin Allen High, Hydel High, St Jago High and Holmwood absent, the Sprint Fest had the look of a St Catherine squad workout, but James was well pleased. “I’m very excited about what I saw today and what will come,” he said.

His sprinters topped every class category, thanks to Shelly-Ann Lewis in Class Four, Michaelann Lindo in Class Three, Kacian Johnson in Class Two and the impressive Kamaria Knight in Class One. Knight held off 2022 Class Two 100m hurdles bronze medal winner Asharia Ulett with a late flourish in 11.96 seconds, aided by a wind gusting a bit over the allowable limit of two metres per second.

Knight reached the Class Two 100 semis in 2021 at the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships.

“She was off for a few years but she’s back now with a vengeance, hard work, focus, discipline. She’s getting there,” he reported.

He has high hopes for Ulett as well. She is primarily a hurdler with third and sixth-place finishes in the Class Two 100 metre hurdles in 2022 and 2021, respectively. However, she was also in last year’s Class One flat 100m final.

“We’re working on some technical aspects of her race, the mid part, so she kind of messed up today but, I mean, later down, she’ll be good,” James promised.

Ulett took the bronze with a time of 13.28 seconds and a sub-13 clocking this year isn’t out of the question.

“She’s on target,” the coach agreed. “The great thing is, she’s injury-free and she’s focused. That is what we’re gearing towards, getting them in line with what they should and by March, she should be in great shape,” the St Catherine head coach reasoned.