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Track And Field
Boldon hooked on Champs
Elton Tucker, Assistant Editor - Sport
Trinidad and Tobago's 1997 world 200 metres champion, Ato Boldon, is hooked on Boys' and Girls' Championships.
He became a staunch fan after watching Kingston College's boys and Holmwood Technical's girls top the 2008 renewal of the meet and now he has vowed that he will never miss the championships again.
Mecca of track and field
"Boys' and Girls' Champs is to track and field like Mecca is to Muslims. You cannot call yourself a fan of track and field and not see this meet," Boldon said on Saturday, just hours before the boys' race for the title ended in a thrilling finish with Kingston College clipping the defending champions Calabar by 1.5 points.
"It is probably the purest form of track and field," he added. "It is not for money, not for contracts, not for shoes. It is just for your school and bragging rights. Not to mention, it is also kind of transitive in that it is only your job now and then you hand it off to somebody else. Then the alumni come in. It is just amazing.
"Unfortunately, one of the greatest regrets in my career is that I never competed in Jamaica while I was an athlete. But I heard all the time that 'you have to come to Champs', but it conflicted with the Texas Relays which is a meet that my club always went to, so I never got a chance to come. I came last year and I don't think I will ever miss it again."
Former World Junior Champ
The three-time Olympian, who won the the sprint double at the World Junior Championships at Seoul, South Korea, in 1992, said he was impressed with Dexter Lee's win in the Class One 100 metres final, but he has one big concern.
"My concern is getting them all the way," the 35-year-old retired sprinter said. "I ran with a young lady called Nikole Mitchell (of Jamaica) who was world junior champion the same year that I was, in 1992. There is no way you could have told me at that point that she was not going to be the next 'fill in the blanks'."
Mitchell won the 100m in Seoul, 1992 and was a relay bronze medallist at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. But she was troubled by injuries early in her senior career.
Boldon, who has personal best times of 9.86 seconds for 100m and 19.77 over 200m, said the Caribbean, including his homeland, has to figure out why some of these really good athletes are falling by the wayside.
Getting burnt out
"Are they getting burnt out? Is it too much pressure at this point? Are they being over-raced? And I say all that as someone who did not get into this sport until I was 16 and then had a very long career.
"So I understand certainly from my perspective that sometimes it is not always good to be great at eight. You are going to run all your races until you are 18 and then that's it," Boldon concluded.