O'Hara reflects on the highs and lows of the past year
IT has been an amazing 12 months for Calabar and Jamaican sprinter Michael O'Hara, but one he hopes to learn from as he looks forward to the next phase of his life.
From winning the gold medal in the 200m at least year's IAAF World Youth Championships in Ukraine to being injured at the ISSA Boys' Championships and being disqualified after false-starting in the semi-finals of the Class One 100m to winning two bronze medals at this year's IAAF World Junior Championships, O'Hara has experienced the highs and lows of competitive sports.
On the final day of the recent World Junior Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, O'Hara told the Jamaica Observer, "I would not say this was the kind of season I had expected it to be, but I had to refocus, stay calm and try to end on a high."
O'Hara, who ran a personal best 20.45 seconds in the semi-finals of the men's 200m in Eugene on his way to a bronze medal in a wind-aided 20.31 seconds (2.3m/s) and was part of the men's bronze medal- winning 4x100m team, was grateful for the experience.
"I must be happy and thankful that I have two medals at my first World Juniors," he said. "So many other athletes from all across the world came here and have nothing to show for their performances, so I have to be happy and satisfied that I even got a medal."
While he said the World Juniors were not his first time on the global stage, he was competing against the best in the world. "Here I went up against people who are better than me or at the same level, but I had to match them and do my best, so the experience overall was great."
In March, O'Hara had gone into the ISSA Champs with high expectations but was hampered by a toe injury but won a bronze in the Class One 200m.
The Champs setback, he told the Observer, had forced him to re-evaluate. "I was motivated to work harder for the Carifta Games and the World Championships and to get back in a positive mindset."
At the Carifta Games in Martinique, O'Hara won the gold medal in the Under-20 boys' 200m, which he said gave him back his confidence.
Later on in the season he also ran his personal best 10.19 seconds in the 100m at an all-comers meet held at the National Stadium.
At the end of a long season, O'Hara, who had also contested the 100m in Eugene, bowing out at the semi-final stage, said getting some rest and getting ready to start school next month was the first priority.
But he added that the last 12 months for him was "a great stepping stone, the experience has taught me a lot and I can only look forward to better things next season".