Super girl

Sport

Super girl

13-y-o long jumper Griffiths carries hopes and dreams of Lewisville High

BY HOWARD WALKER
Observer senior reporter
walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, January 26, 2020

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Hidden deep in the rural farming district of St Elizabeth is a gem.

At a school struggling with basic amenities, long jumper Deodora Griffiths is a bright spark at Lewisville High School.

The 13-year-old Griffiths is a rare talent who turned in the female performance of the meet at the JC/Purewater/R Danny Williams athletics event on January 4.

She leapt 5.43m and smashed the Class Four long jump record of 5.37m established in 2019.

What makes her jump so remarkable was that Jamaica's first female Olympics top six finisher Kathleen Russell did 5.49m in 1948, which is an indicator that young Griffith is years ahead of her time.

And yesterday at the Queen's/Grace Jackson meet young Griffiths won the Class Four long jump with a leap of 5.03m, and just missed the record of 5.09m set in 2017 by Kay-Lagay Clarke of St Jago High.

Her Coach Milton Brown believes the sky's the limit for young Griffiths, who looks set to achieve great things despite the shortcomings of a school that doesn't have the necessary tools or environment to ensure success.

Formed in 1989, Lewisville High was named after former Member of Parliament for St Elizabeth North Western Cleve Lewis, who conceptualised the idea of the school brought into fruition by his son Neville, also a former Member of Parliament.

With a population of approximately 500 students of which 45 are in the athletics programme, Lewisville High will be put on the map by young Griffiths who has shown promise through her golden displays throughout the season.

“Deodora came to Lewisville in 2017, and she was being coached in the sprints. She don't really love long jump to be honest, she just want to run. She loves 200m and 400m,” revealed Coach Brown.

“I have to be poking her and showing her that probably this is the discipline for her. She starts to put in some work now,” he noted.

Brown, who teaches at St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) and was once the head coach, says the lack of proper training facility, equipment and even gears to compete is fustrating.

“We don't have any uniform...some [athletes] run in green, some run in blue. You can't really make us out unless they call our numbers,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

Having guided a number of athletes in the long jump, including Opal James of STETHS to the Champs Class Four record of 5.52m in 2008, Brown believes Griffiths is well on her way to a wonderful career.

But with no proper long jump pit at Lewisville, Brown had to get creative, and “tun him han mek fashion”.

“What I did nearly three years now is tell a tractor man with a backhoe to just pull out a site, and we just dump some sand in it and work with it,” revealed Brown.

Brown notes that most of Jamaica's top schools, even as far away as Kingston, have recruited athletes from the school, which is located in very hilly terrain.

He is pleading for assistance in getting proper running shoes to help the many talented and promising athletes to follow their dreams.

“Footwear is a hell of a thing. From up here you could get more middle-and long-distance runners. It is very costly, and we Jamaicans only see people when we are on top of the world. There is a lot of talent here, a whole lot of talent,” Brown emphasised.

Lewisville students come from varying communities in the vicinity of the school such as Springfield, Newmarket, Prospect, Whitehall, Point, Middle Quarters and Black River, and even as far away as Darliston and Bethel Town in Westmoreland.

“Deodora was placed at Rusea's [High], but her parents relocated to St Elizabeth so she ended up at Lewisville, which is a blessing in disguise right now,” Brown said.


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