Sport

Female athlete only ‘Champs’ runner for Balaclava High

Balaclava torch bearer pleads with fellow students to join track team

BY HOWARD WALKER Observer senior reporter walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, February 10, 2014    

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THE parish of St Elizabeth is rich in Jamaican history. One of its shining boasts is that it was the first parish to have electric power on the island back in 1893.

One-hundred-and-twenty years on, a brilliant light of another variety is shining brightly in the parish in the powerful runner Dawnalee Loney — the only female to represent Balaclava High School at the ISSA Boys' and Girls' Athletic Championships in 2013.

"It was kind of depressing at first because I didn't want to be the only girl representing my school," Loney confided to the Jamaica Observer.

"But again, looking at it from my perspective, I tried to look at it as a motivating factor. That drive to win, that gives me a hunger to want more for Balaclava that will encourage others to come out and join the track team," she added.

Loney, 17, is that beacon of light from the relatively small school struggling with several issues in North East St Elizabeth.

Balaclava High finished 20th in the title race with 9.5 points and of course, that was solely because Loney finished third in the Class II 400m and sixth in the 200m.

Balaclava finished just behind more established schools with multiple runners like Excelsior High (12 points) and Camperdown (11) and above former champions The Queen's School and St Hugh's with five point.

"It made me feel really proud but I am hoping to move up more this year," she said confidently.

Loney will again be competing in the 200m and 400m, but this time in her first year at Class One. She is hoping that she will have other females to partner her in an attempt to climb up the ladder.

"The training has increased and my hunger and want have increased because it's my last year running for Balaclava High School," she revealed.

"I want to show the children at my school that motivation, determination and dedication conquer all. My school motto says, 'perseverance conquers everything' and I really want to prove that to them before I leave so that may encourage them to come out and join the team," said Loney.

"I trained with two guys... there are other females, but they are on and off in training. They are not consistent in their training so I guess that's the factor that's holding them back," she pointed out.

"I am the only one who qualified for Champs so far (and) I am hoping that they give it their all. It will be a little bit tougher but I am coming more equipped and with more experience to deal with it," she reiterated.

The fifth form student will be doing eight subjects in business, social studies, geography, information technology, science, English, mathematics and plumbing.

"As my name says, Loney, I am the only girl doing plumbing," she said, breaking out into laughter. "I love to create history and actually I am doing very well in that area."

Meanwhile, Neil Harrison, the man who spotted the precocious talent, running wildly a few years ago and took her under his wings, believes once she is fine-tuned, the sky's the limit.

"I think she is going from strength to strength and is more mature for this year. After getting a bronze medal last season, she is much more encouraged," said Harrison who coaches at Munro College.

"But what I like about her is her training ethics. She is very committed and she knows exactly what she wants and that's a very good sign," he added.

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