Mon | Dec 11, 2023

Thanks, coach Ollivierre – Haughton

Published:Tuesday | November 21, 2023 | 12:08 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer
Dr Gregory Haughton
Dr Gregory Haughton
Mike Ollivierre
Mike Ollivierre

World and Olympic 400-metre bronze medal winner Greg Haughton has publicly thanked former St Elizabeth Technical High (STETHS) head coach Mike Ollivierre for his encouragement at the 1993 World Championships. Speaking earlier this month at the Jamaica Track and Field Coaches Association Long Service Awards held at the Terra Nova hotel, Dr Haughton praised Olivierre for his support.

Haughton was 19 at the time and was on his first Jamaica senior team.

“I remember after going through the first round, very tough, inexperienced, very nervous, not sure how to deal with success, and the coach for the 400m team, Mr Mike Ollivierre, he was just encouraging me and supporting me throughout the ordeal,” he told awardees at the event.

“When I made it to the final, and I saw the attention I was getting, he brought me into his room and shut me off from both good and bad influences because he wanted me to focus on what was most important to me,” Haughton continued.

Just a year out of Excelsior High, the long-striding runner had become the first Jamaican since 1983 to reach the final.

“So I’m just taking the time to say thank you, coach Mike Ollivierre, wherever you are in the world. You have helped in the development and the shaping of a champion,” the now 49-year-old Haughton said.

Ollivierre, a Vincentian, was head coach at STETHS for 16 years, from the early 1980s to the late 1990s.

The 1995 and 2001 World Championship medallist congratulated the awardees and enumerated the top job of what he described as true coaches.

“The primary responsibility of a true coach is to ensure that the athlete falls in love with the idea of becoming a champion first long before the actual reality occurs. All true coaches know that as a man thinketh, so he doeth,” said the CEO of the Haughton Mentoring Group.

Now a professor of psychology, the 2000 Olympic bronze medallist listed building confidence and developing focus as critical objectives.

“Not crushing the spirit of the youth is of utmost importance when building champions. All true coaches should be patient and understanding with their athletes. This is the level where physical, emotional, and psychological development is needed the most,” he stressed.

On the matter of focus, the five-time World Championship finalist said, “The third responsibility of a true coach is to help the athlete to keep a focus on a task or the event at hand.” Then, for emphasis, he added, “Mental strength and mental stamina is what separates good athletes from great athletes.”

The coaches association cited 13 coaches for their service to the sport in Jamaica. Among them was retired St Jago High, Jamaica College, Calabar High School and Jamaica head coach Michael Clarke, who received a lifetime award.