BIRMINGHAM, England - The emotions flowed freely after Dane Hyatt crossed the line to win his first national senior title in the 400m and ran his first ever sub 45.00 seconds time, as he celebrated at the JAAA/Supreme Ventures National Senior Trials earlier this month.
The scenes after the race were almost surreal as the former William Knibb football player tried to describe his feelings and kept talking, almost incoherently at times, about his "journey."
Almost a month later in a less chaotic scene on the University of Birmingham where the Jamaican team has its pre-Olympic Games training camp, the 28 -year-old Hyatt tries to trace the journey from Goodwill, St James—"not Adelphi," he stressed for the third time in two days— to his preparing to represent Jamaica in the 400m at the Olympic Games.
This is the same event that Jamaican athletics greats such as Herb McKinley, Davian Clarke and Bertland Cameron—one of the coaches here— have worn the national colours.
Hyatt knows therefore that he has big shoes to fill.
His journey included a four-and -half -year stint in the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) where he says he was "forced to resign" when he got a scholarship to attend the University of Lincoln, Missouri. It also included the athlete making the Jamaican team to the 2009 team to the IAAF World Championships in Berlin. But he never graced the competition track there.
In his no- holds- barred style, Hyatt told Observer West he "dabbled in track" while at William Knibb Memorial— as he was more interested in football— where he made the school's 2002 daCosta Cup team.
Under coach Dwayne Barnett, Hyatt said he blossomed into a decent 800m runner, anchoring the William Knibb medley relay team to the god medal at Boys Champs in 2002 and also ran on a 4x400m relay team that included team mate Usain Bolt at the Penn Relays later that year, as the coaches thought he, (Hyatt) was "strong and had a good enough turn over" to help the team.
Track however, never picked up for Hyatt until he entered the JCF. And despite running 49.51 seconds at National Trials in 2006 in his first time at that level he said his fellow cop and close friend Anthony Wallace, had to use unconventional methods to motivate him to train.
"Yes man, him used to do all sorts of things, even promised me gunshot, if me nuh go train and do my best," he told Observer West with a smile.
He said the scholarship offered him the opportunity to further his education and to pursue his dream as a world class athlete.
Not being able to get study leave from the JCF, Hyatt said he resigned from the force.
Now he is the National Champion and preparing to run the 400m at the Olympics in London. But for him, the journey is not even close to being finished.
"You know when you go to a stadium and you have to go to the turnstiles to get in the first gates but you have a long way to go to get inside? I am at the turnstiles," he said.
His 44.83 seconds done at Trials is a life time best in what he says is his "break out year."
Expressing confidence that he will give a good account of himself at the Olympics Hayatt says "there are no limitations I can put on myself, no boundaries........ I am not worried about what anyone has to say because I know I have it in me to go as far as I can in the 400m."