By Robert Taylor, Special to TrackAlerts.com
Recently I was talking to a friend of mine who is a former high school sprinter. He was explaining how amaze he is at the times some of the high school athletes in particular the boys are running. He was comparing the time his class 2 4x100m relay team running a then record of 42.05 and the pride he felt. Now he sees where the time his team ran could not win at the lower level.
Recently a class 3 team runs a new record of 41.83 at the Gibson relay. At the same event, a class 2 team ran record time of 40.64. This means his team would have lose by over a second to kids of similar age as he was and lose to a set of younger kids. If my friend was amazed at the Gibson Relay, he was shocked by the class 3 kid time of 48.54 over the 400m. This means a class 3 400m athlete runs a time that would make the medal stand at the 1979 class 1 400m final.
Wow! He exclaimed, “Can you believe it”? He like I, is salivating about the March 25-29, 2014 Jamaica high school boys and girls championship. Witnessing great performances and the carnival type atmosphere is not something we can find anywhere else. Listening to the predictors of future for the top athletes usually make us laugh.
If one should take a keen look, the improvement is all over the board. Some are saying the Asfa Powell, Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake, Shelly-Ann Fraser Price, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Melaine Walker etc. effect is bearing fruits because the high school athletes actually have close proximity to these top athletes of the world that are locally based. Some attribute it to the vastly improved quantity and quality of the high school coaches GC Foster SportsCollege is producing. With this come improve training technique, better nutrition, access to better apparels and medical care that an athlete need to perform at his/her optimum. The type of program the kids are on is a major factor I believe.
To be fair this is not an original thought of mine. Some coaches are having their kids train twice per day and six days per week during the summer while some carry it throughout the athletic season. In addition, younger athletes are now using more advanced program that usually applies to more mature athlete. I do not have a scientific backing but by using anecdotal evidence, some young kids will not be able to survive such program.
I am in no position to say who is on what program and it is obvious that it takes talent to run times I am seeing. However, the question on some mind is how many of these talented athlete will transition to the senior level. For those that transition, how many will continue their dominance. This is a difficult question for the wisest or learned among us.
Children mature at various levels and sometimes a young kid great performance can mislead us into believing he/she has superior talent instead of superior physical maturity relative to his/her potential ability. The tricky part here is when an athlete fails to dominate in the later classes or fails to transition to the senior level, how one can assess blame. Some are quick to blame school system and or coaches. I have seen so many writings and heard so many blaming the school or coaches for athletes’ failure to reach the standard they projected.
I think the improvement has to do with multiple factors. Better trained and more knowledgeable coaches to go with a more diverse dispersion that create the situation where talents are a lot easier to find now than before. Improve training methods and preparation is another. More advancement training relative to age group maturity might be a factor for some.
Having athletes that train at home who dominate the senior level is also a powerful force. Coaches are seeing the success of coaches who have great understanding and knowledge of their craft. All these elements create the environment where high school athletes are performing at relative levels comparable to the senior athletes.
So now, many from my age group are being wowed by the performances they are witnessing. It takes extremely hard work to reach the top and if one body cannot deal with the work one will never achieve world rated level. My only hope is that the attrition rate and there will be an attrition rate, does not leave many without a proper education that will allow them to live a meaningful life if their dreams of being the next great one out of Jamaica fell through.
**The views expressed in this article are those of the author (Robert Taylor) and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, TrackAlerts.com.