Waterford Primary celebrates Olympic trio
IT'S said that lightning doesn't strike in the same place twice. For Waterford Primary School, however, it has struck three times this season with past students Warren Weir, Richard Phillips and Jason Morgan having all qualified for the Olympic Games in London.
"I can remember this like it was yesterday while growing up in my community of Waterford and attending Waterford Primary. That's where my journey to being into an Olympic Games begins... that's where I developed a winning attitude," Morgan told the Jamaica Observer.
The discus thrower, who will be going to his first Games, acknowledged his late former coach Linford Jones.
"While training and running laps on that hard field barefoot, I think over the years my feet became hard as the field also, but my heart also became hard on the vision to representing Jamaica and becoming an Olympian," he said.
Morgan, as well as Weir — who finished third in the men's 200m at the JAAA/Supreme Ventures National Championships — went on to Calabar High, but Waterford teacher Courtney Lewis remembers them both, having taught them in grade six in different years.
"(They were) good-behaving students; students who tried their best, especially Warren. He was a brilliant student, worked very hard... well-mannered.
"Jason was a little bit sluggish, but he always wanted to perform; always wanted to do his best, but Warren was a little more bookish," Lewis recollected.
"Jason did not participate in field events... he wasn't big-bodied, but he vowed from then that he was going to make us proud, and I remember about five years ago he came to see me and he said, 'Sir, you see though, I have achieved my goal,' and he really did it," he added.
Of Weir, he said: "Every time I picture him I picture him with his spikes in his hand. He was a very dedicated athlete at the primary level and represented us at the Primary Champs since he was in the lower school until he left."
Lewis, who moved through the ranks to become vice-principal of the school after almost 30 years on the job, said Weir was scheduled to speak at the school's graduation last Thursday but was unable to do so as he left for Europe to compete.
"I watched the (Olympic) Trials. I always keep abreast with Jason's performance too. I know of Warren... because I watched him perform at the Diamond League, so I know he was very good and know he would make it for the Olympic team," added the veteran educator.
Meanwhile, Weir recalls his days running on the "Back Road" behind the school as a youngster.
"We went there very often," said the Calabar alumni who competed in the 400m and the hurdles while at the Portmore-based Waterford.
He said he regrets the missed opportunity of speaking at the school's graduation ceremony.
"I couldn't be there. That would have been a good opportunity," he told the Observer.
However, Weir, Morgan and Phillips are not the only Olympians the school has produced. Lewis told the Observer that national 110m hurdles record-holder Dwight Thomas is also a past student.
"We have them all over the place," he said, adding that they have a rich tradition in athletics.
"Our school was the Primary champions for five consecutive years. I don't know, but Waterford has that rich tradition of excellent runners. Some pursued and are still active, but some pursued other things," he said.
Said Morgan: "I was very focused to do something great at a young age while attending this school; staying focused and associate myself with the right peers. I always think of the positive outcome for my future and what impact I can have on myself and others."
He added: "I hope to inspire and motivate other youngsters in the community; give them hope that they can achieve greatness, if they stay positive and focus on the right things."