Titchfield’s Shanice Burrell, the heart of a champion

Saturday, March 04, 2017

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Shanice Burrell’s stated passion is to represent people.


At the 2017 Digicel Grand Prix Athletics Eastern Championship event, the multi-talented Titchfield High School student proved she is also good at representing herself.


Burrell excelled in four events, three of which were among the eight Digicel Grand Prix disciplines, to give herself a shot at winning the big prize at the Digicel Grand Prix Finals — the GC Foster Classic.


The three Grand Prix event finals that the Class One athlete will be eligible to compete in are the high jump, which she won with a 1.6-metre leap, the long jump, in which she finished second with a mark of 5.00m, and the 100m, in which she also placed second in 12.88 seconds.


Burrell also won a fourth event, the 100 metres hurdles, in a record 14.83 seconds, lowering Trudy McCalla’s 2013 standard of 15.46.


However, because it’s not a Grand Prix event, she didn’t qualify for the $20,000 bonus that goes to record breakers in the cash-rich championship competitions, which include the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 4x400m, long jump, high jump and discus for Class One and Two athletes.


Still, it contributed to Burrell emerging as the champion girl, having accumulated an unmatched 32 points.


"I’m extremely ecstatic," she said of that achievement. "I worked extremely hard and I was working towards being champion girl."


For that, she also got a financial reward, which the sixth former says is vital.


"My mom is a single parent so it will be beneficial for me and it will help me to purchase some CAPE books towards my exams," she noted.


Her sport of choice, track and field, along with her work in the classroom, has long been facilitating her goals.


Burrell previously attended Buff Bay High, but made the switch after success in CSEC exams.


But, Buff Bay High is where she got involved in track and field, beginning in grade seven.


That institution has fought many fierce battles with eventual champions, St Mary High School in recent years for the Eastern Championship title. This year was no different, but Buff Bay placed second overall and Titchfield High third.


Asked how it felt to compete against her former teammates, the 18-year-old replied: "I don’t really feel anyway because the Buff Bay High students actually wanted to beat me and I was determined not to let that happen; I was actually fighting to prevent that."


Fighting, not literally, is something she actually does very well. She had been beset by injuries this season, which she says hampered her chances.


"I was out for some weeks due to injuries. I won the 100m hurdles but I could’ve produced a faster time, so I could’ve achieved more if I wasn’t out with injury, so I’m a little bit disappointed," she offered.


Most of the fighting, though appears to lie ahead.


"I have a passion to advocate for persons, to speak out for persons," she noted, pointing to her goal of becoming a lawyer or social worker.


"Most social ills in Jamaica really affect me and I believe that I can make a change," said Burrell.


Given her goals, the slimly built athlete, who formerly attended Avocat Primary and Junior High near Buff Bay, indicated that her track and field career will end in high school.


"It’s not really my passion to become a professional athlete because at this level the training is extremely hard, so I can only imagine at that level it’ll be harder," she opined.


For now, she is basking in the moment of her Eastern Championship successes, but is left to make a choice as each athlete can compete in only one individual event at the Grand Prix finals.


That guarantees her $5,000, like every Class One and Two first- and second-place finisher in Grand Prix events leading into the final.


"I figured that I’ve done well and I feel like I’ll do better in the high jump," she declared.


The final of the five-meet series will take place at the National Stadium on March 11.


Digicel, as part of its $15-million sponsorship for the 2017 Digicel Grand Prix Athletics Championship, provides each regional champion school, boy and girl with $250,000, second-place teams $100,000, and $50,000 for third.


The overall champions, to be decided by points earned at the finals only, will earn the grand prize of $1 million cash towards their sports programme, with $500,000 for second and $200,000 for third.

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