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Gunning for their hearts ... Gonzales wants to win back fans after injury setbacks

Published:Monday | February 8, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Ryon Jones, Gleaner Writer

Gonzales: I just want to do well.

Jamaica's 400 meters athlete Jermaine Gonzales desperately wants to win back the hearts of his fans after showing so much promise during early days before his seemingly never-ending struggle with injuries.

In 2003, Gonzales faced long time friend Usain Bolt in a highly anticipated Class-Two 400-metre final at the Boys and Girls' Athletics Championships at the National Stadium. The lanky quarter-miler, however, failed to finish the race as he suffered an injury to his right hamstring; Bolt went on to win the event in record time and the rest, as they say, is history.

Gonzales suffered another major injury at the 2005 national trials when his left hamstring on this occasion got torn, resulting in him missing the 2005 World Championships.

He won his first senior medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Australia in a personal-best time of 45.85 seconds but was revisited by injury in 2007 and yet again missed the World Championships. 2008 was his worst year yet as he started experiencing back problems in which addition to his recurring hamstring troubles. It was so bad he did not even participate in the national trials.

During the course of the year, he made the decision to final move on from his long-time coach Fitz Coleman and join old pal Bolt in the Glen Mills camp.

Injury-free season

There seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel for the 25-year-old as last year for the first time in three years, he completed a season without suffering an injury.

"Last year, I didn't get any injuries, it has been three years since I have finished a season injury-free so I can say I am over it," Gonzales said. "I think it was just a hydration problem, it was a mistake on my party I didn't take hydration that seriously, so I end up getting a lot of cramps, which lead to hamstring strains. Last season, I was hydrated properly and got all the necessary liquids in my body to help my muscles cope with the hard work," he added.

An important year

Gonzales, who is currently working on his strength and endurance, believes it is going to be an important year for him.

"For me, it is going to be important because it is kind of like putting myself back up there. I only have one year leave on my contract, so I need to run fast and give a good showing of myself this year and win back the heart of some of my fans to show them that I am still as good as back then and even better. So for me it is very important, even though it is not a major season."

He, however, does not plan to run at the Indoor Championship and is not yet sure if he will be participating in the Commonwealth games. He does, however, plan to someday add hurdling to his slate of events and has actually started some training in the event.

"It (hurdling) is something that I am interesting in and I have started doing some hurdling training," Gonzales said.

"I don't know if I will reach the level that Usain is at but I am definitely going to try. I just want to do well, represent my country well and also to earn some money from it. I am working hard, as I have said before I want to win back the hearts of my fans and that's the main objective right now. To be honest with you, Usain has set such a high standards, it is kind of hard to keep up with him, so I really just want to do what I can do."