Sports

Is Andre Edwards the next great Jamaican sprinter?

...His coach Randall King thinks so

BY HOWARD WALKER
Senior Staff reporter
walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, June 08, 2018

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Two years ago he left Jamaica as a 16-year-old running just under 11 seconds.

Now Andre Edwards is returning for the National Junior Trials looking not only to secure his berth on the team, but stamp his class as well.

The 18-year-old Edwards, formerly of Munro College, made the Class Two 100m final in 2016 after he clocked 10.94 seconds, finishing sixth. Calabar High's Michael Stephen won in 10.48 ahead of schoolmate Dejour Russell in 10.54.

Now Edwards, who has been quietly making a name for himself at South Plain College in Texas, has a personal best of 10.46.

But in April at the San Angelo David Noble Relays, he lowered that to a frightening 10.13 seconds, but a tailwind of 2.2 mps, robbed him of a legal time. The allowed wind limit is 2.0 mps.

“I can say I am definitely not the person when I left. I am more developed. I always knew I had the potential and I found the coach to guide me to where I needed to be. I can definitely tell people they are going to see a different Andre when I get back,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

“Training has been going great. I broke my big toe in the middle of April and had to sit out for like a few weeks just to get it healed. My plan was to go to World Junior Trials, so I knew I had to get it rested and it's feeling better now and coach said I am looking like a whole different person,” he added.

His coach, Randall King, believes Edwards is in sub-10 second condition and will really announce himself to Jamaica at the National Junior Trials later this month.

“He ran 10.13 (2.2); on that same day he went 10.28 in the preliminary with a negative wind. He also ran a 200m and 4x100 relay before he ran that final. Really, if you put it into perspective, he was ready to run sub-10 that day,” King theorised.

“If I execute my race right I wouldn't be surprised. He knows what he sees and I put in the work and put God first, and I believe I can definitely put down a time like that,” Edwards concurred.

The Jamaican-born King who hails from Mandeville, is not only confident that Edwards will make the Jamaican team, but that he will win the 100m at the IAAF World Junior Championship in Finland in July.

“I think he will win. I have no doubt with him making the Jamaican team. He would have to really have a meltdown to not to make the team,” King told the Observer.

“I don't want to overstep my comments and talk in front of me. Can he win Ja Trials? Absolutely! Do I think he has the potential to win Worlds? Yes. Does he have the talent to win? Yes,” said King.

“There are only two people that could conceivably beat him. That is the young man from South Africa (Thando Dlodlo) and Anthony Schwartz from the US. I haven't seen the South African run, so I can't speak educationally. I know Anthony very well [as] he trains not too far from where we train and there is no doubt in my mind that he can beat Anthony,” King emphasised.

Schwartz is the Under-20 world leader with 10.09 and Dlodlo is right behind with a 10.11 clocking. These two have the top six times in the world.

Another South African, Thembo Monareny, has a 10.18 clocking, while Nigerian Enoch Adegoke sped to 10.19. Jamaica's Sachin Dennis, with 10.20, is ninth on the world list ahead of Tyreke Wilson with 10.21, who is ranked 10th. Other Jamaicans with decent rankings are Ryiem Robertson with 10.28 and ranked 24, Michael Stephens (10.32) is ranked 36th, Dejour Russell (10.34) is at 49 and Jhevaughn Matherson (10.41) comes in at 82nd.

Edwards admits that he has been keeping an eye on what has been happening in Jamaica on the track and field scene.

“Matherson, I heard, ran at the All Comers Meet. Tyreke Wilson… I heard Stephenson is out, Xavier Nairne, Robertson I am very much in touch with my competition,” he noted.

Edwards' transition to life in the US was not an easy one. While attending Spanish River High School in Florida, he was expelled controversially, a move that prompted then coach King to resign.

“He ran the whole year, doing well, running fast. He was on to run 10.1 last year, if not faster, and then right before the Florida State meet they threw him out of school. They said he was a high school graduate from Jamaica,” king explained.

“What really happened was that a couple of the local high schools were so jealous of him running so well, they reported him to the state, saying he was a high school graduate. I called Munro and asked them to intervene for us and explained where he was and what his grades were, which they did.

“It was a messy situation, so emotional. he was beat down really bad and I was very upset with the school for not speaking up on his behalf. That was a morality I cannot accept and I cannot work with, and who would do that to a young man? So I quit,” said King.

“The principal was a black man and I was upset with him for not defending this young man. He did not defend him at all and then they got mad at me because I made a big stink out of it.

“I told them where I came from and where I was raised, you don't leave a young man out to hang like this.

“So we sent him down to South Plain so he could clear his head,” he explained.

However, with Edwards out of the Jamaican limelight for a while and not considered one of the local stars, coach King is hoping that athletics fans at home will embrace him when he comes for the trials.

“I would want Jamaica to embrace him and give him the vote of confidence that he can be the next great one because I believe in my heart that he can be. He is only 18 years old. He is a really good young one,” said King.

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