By Noel ‘Bravo’ Francis, Special to

Jamaica is the track and field powerhouse of the Caribbean and the country is extremely proud in playing an integral role in developing talented and aspiring athletes from the region. In recent years, the country’s prestigious ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys’ & Girls’ Athletic Championship has seen an influx of Caribbean Athletes participating with distinction.

The list includes current Class 1 100m record holder Zharnel Hughes originally from Anguilla before switching allegiance to Great Britain. Hughes represented Kingston College in 2014. Another top athlete is Delano Williams, the 2012 World Junior Champion at 200m, formerly of Turks & Caicos now competing for Great Britain. Williams attended Munro College and won back-to-back 100m and 200m sprint titles in 2012 & 2013. Jorel Bellafonte from the Cayman Islands scored crucial points in the middle distance events for Calabar High School. He competed up until 2014. Lamar Reid, a second year class 3 athlete at Calabar High, is also from the Cayman Islands. Last year Reid broke the 22-year old high jump record (1.98m) with a clearance of 1.99m.

Some new Caribbean athletes seen at the Jamaican High School development meets this season are Julien Alfred (St. Lucia) representing St. Catherine High, Shalysa Wray (Cayman Islands) representing St. Jago, Nelda Huggins (British Virgin Islands) representing St. Jago, Kashief Dawkins and Gregg Bennett (Cayman Islands) representing Calabar and Ken Reyes (Turks & Caicos) representing Jamaica College. special contributor Noel ‘Bravo’ Francis had a one-on-one interview with one of the new faces Ken Reyes of Jamaica College.

Q: Where are you from?
A: “I’m from the Turks & Caicos Islands.”

Q: Which event do you participate in?
A: “I run the 800m.”

Q: How long have you been in Jamaica?
A: “I’ve been here one year going into my second year.”

Q: Which Class do you compete in?
A: “I’m in Class 1.”

Q: What are you looking forward to achieving at ‘Champs’ this year?
A: “Just to make the finals and if I make the finals just to put out my best on the field.”

Q: What is your personal best time?
A: “My personal best is 1:56.”

Q: How do you like Jamaica so far?
A: “Jamaica is a beautiful place with a lot of nice people and a lot of vibes and motivation.”

Q: How do you find Jamaica College; do you like it there?
A: “Jamaica College is a lot of teamwork and teammates who help you to progress in track and field. It is awesome.”

Q: What is your favourite Jamaican meal?
A: “Ackee and saltfish.”

Q: Who is your role model?
A: “Right now I look at myself as a role model. I like how some boys from the other schools run, they are good as well.”

Q: We saw you at the Gibson McCook Relays in the 4x800m, how was that experience running in front of such a large crowd?
A: “Oh boy that experience…it was really good. The crowd was just blowing horns and cheering me on; it gave me the spirit to run even faster.”

Q: Are you motivated to run at Champs this year?
A: “Yes sir, I’m motivated to do well by my coaches and family.”

Q: Do you have any injury concerns at this time?
A: “No sir, I’m injury free from the start of the whole season.”

Q: What’s the best coaching advice you have received since being in Jamaica?
A: “Never to worry about the race, just go out and run your best.”

Reyes seems to have had a smooth transition settling down in his new surroundings making friends and improving in every sphere of life. It’s a win-win situation and he is cashing in.

Noel ‘Bravo’ Francis is a very exciting and creative freelance sports writer specializing in the fields of athletics and cricket. His colourful down to earth yet professional personality makes him a favourite amongst athletes and fans. Readers are often exposed to his detailed knowledge and passion which usually increase their interest in the athletes, events and the sport overall. He has a first degree in Banking & Finance and works in the financial industry. Contact Noel at [email protected]


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