High-flying Beckford promises greater things to come

ATHLETE TO WATCH

Sunday, February 18, 2018

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“Coming out here means a lot to me because showing the world that I am good, means a lot. So going out there into the bigger world, I am trying to do the same.”

Those are the words of 15-year-old Romaine Beckford, the overall boys champion of the Digicel Eastern Championships.

Beckford produced a superlative performance over the two days of the meet that ended on Tuesday. He won four gold medals, two with record performances, as he helped Buff Bay High to win the boys' section of the championships, dethroning the powerful St Mary High in the process.

Despite winning the boys section, Buff Bay High had to settle for second place overall as St Mary were able to defend their title.

But for Beckford it is a championship that he won't soon forget after he bettered his performances of what was a good meet last year. In 2017 he was first with a record in the high jump, first in the discus and second in the shot put.

His 2018 performance is the stuff of dreams. On Monday he broke the Class Two discus record with a throw of 45.64m, then returned on Tuesday to become the first athlete from the 'east' to clear 2m in the high jump when he raised the new standard to 2.05m.

Two records from his first two events, he then went on to throw 13.02m in the shot put, then closed his championships by helping the sprint medley team secure gold.

Beckford credits his extraordinary success to a number of factors.

“The hard work in training, the motivation with my teammates and everything else, but I didn't know that I was going to come out and push out this, but my coach talked to me last night and I came to do my best,” he explained.

Beckford enjoys a relationship with his coach that is closer than a father/son relationship saying, “he inspires me one hundred and ten per cent”.

The Buff Bay star athlete remembers his “Boys' Champs” of 2017 as being a challenging but rewarding one, and he knows what he will be doing this year.

“It was a hard one, because high jump and discus were going on at the same time, but I still managed to finish in the top eight in both events. This year I am just going out there to do my best,” he said.

The most important message learned from last year was the value of hard work.

Having passed all the tests asked of him by his peers from the east, Beckford is now looking forward to the next challenge which is the Digicel Grand Prix.

“I am feeling great going into the Grand Prix final because there [it] is gonna be the best of the best, and I want to see where I am at and it will be a good gauge going into champs,” he said.

Beckford did express pride in his Eastern Champs performances and delight at doing so in front of his adoring parents.

“I feel extremely good. I am feeling proud and I also made my teammates proud and my coach, my school proud and my parents as well, because they are here watching,” he revealed.

Coach Kevin Brown said the performances of his charge were “expected”.

“He was coached to do what he did today. We are not just training for Eastern Champs so, of course, you will see better from him at the bigger championships,” Brown stated with confidence.

The Digicel Grand Prix, he expects, will be the perfect gauge for “Champs”.

“That will be like a preview to Champs because the best of the best will be there,” he noted.

Brown also revelled in the high jump achievement of Beckford.

“Wilbert Walker in 2003 did 2m in the Class One high jump; no one else had jumped 2m at this championships, so 2.05m for Romanie is the best since these championships have been held and he is only Class Two,” the coach beamed with pride.

There was a tinge of disappointment for the man who demands perfection from his athletes.

“The shot put, based on what he was doing in training, we expected him to do a little bit more. But, of course, two days of competition will definitely take a toll on the body. and then jumping 2.05 and then rushing straight to the shot put right after, I think maybe that messed up his performances somewhat, but he will get there,” the Buff Bay High coach assured.

Brown summed up Beckford's performance is “great, great, great! two records, we couldn't expect it any better where this championship is concerned”.

The Digicel Grand Prix Final will be held during the GC Foster Classics at the National Stadium on Saturday, March 10.

— Dwayne Richards

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