KINGSTON, Jamaica — DESPITE his humble demeanor, Jamaican Olympic 110 metre hurdles champion Hansle Parchment is well aware that the hopes of a nation rests on his shoulders.
No Jamaican male has ever medalled in the sprint hurdles and that fact is not lost on Parchment, a 22-year-old psychology student at the University of the West Indies. If he manages to break the jinx, Parchment will be adding another to his list of firsts.
After all, he is the first local-based Jamaican to win a national sprint hurdles title. The first university student to qualify for the Olympic sprint hurdles and the first Jamaican University Games hurdles Champion.
With a personal best time of 13.18, which he clocked at the National trials, Parchment will have to make a quantum leap if he is to compete with the likes of Cuban world record holder Dayron Robles, China's Liu Xiang and reigning world and indoor 60-metre champion, Jason Richardson of the US, who are pre-tournament favourites.
But the unassuming Parchment is undaunted by the big names and is aiming to give of his best.
"I am aware that the other athletes are better in terms of times, but its a hurdles event and its a technical event and its really about who executes the best on the day. I know that I have a lot of work to do to get up there but I am not really looking at the others. I am working on my strengths and weaknesses," he told the Jamaica Observer.
In the national trials Parchment recovered from a pedestrian start to overhaul his rivals and post a personal best and says he knows he has to work on that aspect of his race to deliver a complete race.
Unlike athletes who invest 100 per cent in track and field, Parchment is dedicated to completing his studies and his lessons in psychology is helping him in the mental aspect of his game.
"At one point I used to just study to pass. But since recently I have been taking it more seriously because I realise the importance to track and field and maybe I can use it to assist others," he said.
While admitting that he has not mastered the art of using what he is still learning at the tertiary level to fully assist him when he graces the track, Parchment says psychology has helped him to focus on his race and block out pre-race jitters.
"I believe psychology has helped. I am not the best at these types of things but I am able most of the times to block out the external distractions," he said.
Parchment started hurdling in the sprint and 400 metres, at the schoolboy level for Morant Bay High School before he transferred to Kingston College where he won the class one 100m hurdles at the Boys Championships.
Coached by Fitz Coleman, Parchment says he looks up to another former sprint hurdler Maurice Wignall, who has come the closest to a podium finish with a fourth place finish at the Athens Olympic in 2004.
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