Sport

Cavahn 'Jaguar' McKenzie's spirit lives on — Hawthorne

BY HOWARD WALKER Observer senior reporter walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, February 24, 2014    

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THE young and promising St Jago High student Cavahn 'Jaguar' McKenzie who collapsed and died while representing his country, was said to be a young man with a big heart.

McKenzie, 17, was part of the 10-member Jamaican team to the three-day NACAC Cross Country Championships that started on Thursday in Trinidad and Tobago.

McKenzie is said to have collapsed at the end of the 6K event and died shortly after at the Scarborough General hospital.

Donald 'Danny' Hawthorne, the long-serving head coach of St Jago's track team, told the Jamaica Observer that McKenzie, popularly known as 'Jaquar' by his teammates, was a fighter to the end.

"He is a very quiet, sometimes unassuming and a fun person. One of those persons who was resolved in doing good in whatever he does. He never quits," said Hawthorne.

"I remember last year at Trials (Carifta), he was doing the 3,000 and he was injured. I left the stands and went down there and called to him twice to stop and he continued. The third time, I went to the official and begged him to take him off the track and he kept on going and finished the race and completed the 3,000m with a sprint," noted Hawthorne.

"He was a man with a big heart. He is like that. As we are here mourning, we should be celebrating his life. It's a very short one but worthy of emulation because of what he depicted. He never gave up and was always trying," added Hawthorne, who coached 2011 World Championship 100m gold medallist, Yohan Blake, at high school.

McKenzie was expected to be the trump card for St Jago in the 2,000m Steeplechase and 5,000m events at next month's ISSA Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships.

"I was hoping he would do the steeplechase and the 5,000m. He was our top guy in those events. He was training quite intensely every morning," the coach pointed out.

But Hawthorne and his coaching staff will have their hands full in getting these athletes back in the frame of mind to compete following the death of one of their most loved students.

"When the whole team heard it was all tears. Pandemonium around there (Stadium East tent). Pure crying, it was hard to contain them yesterday (Saturday) just before the 4x4 started," said Hawthorne.

He continued: "Anyhow, we have to calm them down and get them back in the participation mood. I am just coming from the house that he stayed with about eight other boys and we just had a prayer meeting and tried to encourage them."

"He has run the course, he has paid his dues and we can't question God," said Hawthorne.

In a release from the Jamaica Administrative Association (JAAA), an autopsy will be done today with a member of the management team in Trinidad. The Jamaica team is scheduled to arrive home today at 12:40 pm.

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