Sport

Anthonett Turner high on Champs experience

...15 years on, and she can't seem to come down

BY HOWARD WALKER Observer senior reporter walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, March 04, 2014    

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She might not have been a medal winner at the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) Boys' and Girls' Championships, but the mere participation has left Anthonett Turner feeling like a champion.

After 15 years, she still cherishes the experience, and one she expects to be etched in her mind for time immemorial.

Turner, who represented Spanish Town High School in the shot put in 1999, said just performing in the packed National Stadium in one of the greatest school events was like a dream.

That year fans will remember St Jago's Melaine Walker defeating Veronica Campbell of Vere Technical twice to take the sprint double in Class Two. Walker later captured her third gold in the 100m hurdles.

On that very occasion, Aleen Bailey of Vere captured the Class One sprint double and St Jago's Kenia Sinclair dominated the 1,500m. They all went on to become Olympians, and medallists at that.

Mention the name Turner and everyone would instantly remember the famous sisters -- Inez, Janice and Evette -- who dominated long-distance running at the school level.

But for Anthonett Turner, just making a final at Champs was more than she could have asked for.

"Champs for me was somewhat of a surreal event," she told the Jamaica Observer, as she broke her officiating duties at the Alcor Windows and Doors Corporate Area Development Meet on Saturday.

"First of all coming from a non-traditional high school, it was a difference, because everybody in that school basically played netball or football. It was one of the first times an athlete made the final for the school," she noted.

"The following year we entered, but due to challenges, it did not go as well as the first year. But for me, it was one of the most memorable (occasions) just competing in the National Stadium," Turner said.

"I made the final, but I can't remember what place or distance it was. It was just an experience where you were just happy to be here and performing at Champs," she added.

But now, the former shot putter, now a physical education teacher at Greater Portmore High, enjoys giving back to students what she learnt during her Champs career.

Turner recalled how she had to balance her studies while preparing for Champs -- a valuable lesson she passes on to student athletes under her tutelage.

"It is good, because now I get to instil some of the values I was taught and trying to get the students and teachers too, that there needs to be a balance between academics and play," she pointed out.

"For one, we were always pushed to compete in some form of extra-curricular activity, and as such, you had the help of the teachers. There was always extra help wherever necessary," said Turner.

She thinks the making of the total person goes beyond play and beating the books.

"I do believe in balance, and academics alone won't help. There needs to be something else, even if it's not athletics; some other form of extra-curricular activity to help make this person a well-rounded individual," she suggested.

Turner, now one of the many volunteers at the various development meets since 2007, is in charge of the throws.

"I enjoy it (officiating) because it is giving back to the sport. Field event as a whole is not something that is always visible in the public's eyes and as such, it can be any format or any medium that you can use to get it there for persons to understand that it's not only about the track, but it's also about other things that take place outside other than the track."

Turner, who admits that while officiating at these meets brings back good memories of her competition days, it's something that she misses at times.

With her competitive track and field days behind her, Turner is happy passing on her knowledge and giving advice to the dreamers of today.

"Stay focused and ensure that you balance both academics and play. Whatever sport you play, ensure that you balance both because at the end of the day you can go on the track and if you pick up an injury, (and) what is left is what you have gained from your education," said Turner.

Even as she commits to Greater Portmore High across the way, Turner still keeps an eye at her alma mater Spanish Town High and hopes to one day assist with the school's athletics programme.

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