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'Never say die'

St Jago hopes to honour fallen athlete with Champs win

BY KIMMO MATTHEWS Observer staff reporter matthewsk@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, February 25, 2014    

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INDOMITABILITY pushed through the heavy pall of grief that engulfed St Jago High School yesterday morning as Cavahn McKenzie's colleagues fixed their minds on winning the upcoming ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys' and Girls' Championships in tribute to his 'never say die attitude'.

"We want to do it (win champs) for him, we want to follow what he left off. Quitters never win and winners never quit, that was part of his philosophy and he was that sort of person," said coach Donald Hawthorne.

D'Jean Allwood, captain of the St Jago athletics team, agreed.

"We lost someone valuable to the team. We will use this as a reason to go forward and not backward," Allwood said as he led members of the team to an emotion-filled devotion where students and teachers wept openly for the promising athlete who died on Saturday in Trinidad and Tobago.

While the St Jago team were competing at the annual Gibson Relays inside the National Stadium in Kingston, McKenzie was representing Jamaica at the three-day North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association Cross-Country Championships.

But 17-year-old McKenzie collapsed at the end of the six-kilometre event and died shortly after being rushed to Scarborough General Hospital.

"He was the kind of person who would always go the extra mile," St Jago Principal Sandra Swyer Watson said at the morning devotion during which the St Catherine school reflected on the life of the youth athlete affectionately called 'Jaguar' and 'Paw'.

"He was a humble person, but he was never afraid to ask for what he wanted," said the principal. "He knew where he was and where he wanted to go. He was aware of his shortcomings and was willing to work towards improving himself."

Members of the track team pinned their Gibson Relay bibs, along with hand-made signs reading 'RIP Paw' onto their knapsacks in tribute to the departed athlete.

"He was someone who everyone, including myself, looked up to as a role model," said student Junninho Thomas.

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