Monday 16 July, 2018

Lucian track and field prodigy making sacrifices in Jamaica

St. Lucian track and field child prodigy, Julien Alfred is having a hard time coping with the requirements of the sport while being away from friends and family, in Jamaica.

Alfred won a bronze medal in the 200 metres, competing for St. Catherine High, in the just concluded five-day Boys' and Girls' Championships at Jamaica's National Stadium over the weekend, which attracted over 30,000 final-day spectators on Saturday.

It was a disappointment for her, as she was tipped to win the gold medal in the 100 metres by the competition's respectable magazine, that had also predicted her to finish third in the 200 metres, which she did. Alfred ended fourth in the 100 metres with a time of 11.83 seconds.

According to Alfred, her success might have been better if she was able to be around her coach from St. Lucia, Cuthbert 'Twatinay' Modeste, who visited her during her first time competing at Champs last year, when she placed second in both Class Three girls' 100 metres and 200 metres races.

She said, "my local coach is not here. I have no family members here. Probably if they were here, I would have done much better.

"It's very hard out here. I am only 15-years-old. I stay with the vice principal. I go to school; from school, go training; from training, go home; do home work; and I have to be very independent at this stage of my life. So it is very hard for me," she said.

The knowledgeable Alfred, who finished fifth in the Under-18 girls' 100 metres at the regional Carifta Games last year, admits to feeling frustrated to the point of wanting to return to her native island, but stays focused with a goal in mind.

In the interview with Loop News' reporter Job Nelson after her 200 metres run on Saturday at track side at the stadium, Alfred said, "I don't get much leisure time. My life is basically spent on the track. It is a big sacrifice.

"It is not any 15-year-old would come out here at these championships. Run in front of so many people on their own. It is just really hard out here.

"Sometimes when I feel too pressured, I call my mother and tell her that I want to come back home, but I have a job to do. I have a mission to accomplish. So I have to keep my head on and keep moving forward," she said.

Alfred believes that her performance could have been better if she had the support of her family and friends to help to motivate her during the championships as she expressed regrets at what she achieved at the championships, although she ran a personal best of 24.00 seconds for seventh in the 200 metres.

"For my 100 metres last night (Friday) I wasn't too impressed with my time or where I placed. I didn't come into this championships with a lot of confidence. I am very much disappointed."

"I did my personal best in the 200 metres final and my 100 metres wasn't too well. I know my start was good from what I see from the video, but my ending wasn't all that. If I continue to work on my ending, I am sure I am going to win, for St. Catherine, it in a couple of years," she said.

And to her countrymen back home, she said, "big up yourself 758."