12-year-old whose showboating created stir wants to become an athlete
This video grab shows Cavel Nooks crossing the finish line backwards to taunt opponents trailing behind at the Jamaica Teachers’ Association/ Sagicor National Athletics Championship

CAVEL Nooks elicited humour and controversy last week during the Jamaica Teachers’ Association/ Sagicor National Athletics Championships at the National Stadium in St Andrew.

Video footage of the 12-year-old student from Bethesda Primary and Infant School in St Thomas went viral as he won the 800m in the Under-15 category, not because of the victory itself but due to his showboating.

The barefooted youngster, in his first race of that magnitude, ran backwards to the finish line, taunting his opponents on whom he had a substantial lead.

While some people accused him of unsportsmanlike behaviour, the youngster admitted to the Jamaica Observer that grandstanding was normal behaviour for him and his friends in sporting contests.

According to Cavel, he was simply happy he was winning the race as he was only accustomed to running on sports day at school with friends.

“The experience was good. It was really exciting. I don’t really have a reason why I love running… mi just do it,” he told the Sunday Observer last Friday.

“I always participate at sports day at school and I won a lot of medals,” he added.

His mother, Dadrian Campbell, recalled being at work and watching the race live on television.

“I was watching it on the TV. I was just jumping and a prance all ’bout, to be honest,” she said, laughing. “I work in a bar and when the people in there a order, mi tell them seh them affi wait because a my son that. The excitement was there. I felt good; I felt really good. It was the first time he came out and participated in something so big; and to see him win and make it look so easy too, I felt really good. Mi feel proud a mi son. He never seemed tired after the race or anything,” she told the Sunday Observer.

Campbell said she frequently goes to her son’s school and cheers him on when he competes on sports day. She said his running at the National Stadium was a big deal and a proud moment for the family.

“It was an experience for him. He never usually do things like this or really go out or anything. Him will run at sports day at school, and that’s it — no big championship. He was never trained or coached to run or anything; he just likes to run and he is always running. Me all scold him and tell him not to run and take him book [study]. But see it there, him still a run. This boy never stop run so mi just affi leave him make him run. Other than that, he goes to school, come home and do yard work. Nothing more,” Campbell related.

She said her older daughter was at the stadium cheering Cavel on.

“I asked her to work for me and she said ‘No’ because she affi go and support her brother. So, I had to go to work. I have five of them and it’s really me alone a batter with them,” the mother disclosed.

Campbell also shared that when she got home after the race, the reaction from neighbours and friends made her son’s performance much sweeter.

“They were like, ‘Yuh nuh see the race? Yuh boy turn star! Yuh boy a go mek yuh rich!’ I felt good,” Campbell related.

She told the Sunday Observer she informed her son that the video of him finishing the race had gone viral and that it was uploaded to various social media platforms and had got thousands of views. On the Jamaica Observer’s official Instagram account alone, the video amassed more than 120,000 views and almost 10,000 likes. She said he was surprised.

“I showed it to him because him don’t have a phone for himself, and he is saving to buy a tablet. People will send him to shop and they will give him a $500, and when he gets it he gives it to me and tell me to save it because he wants to buy a tablet,” Campbell said.

Meanwhile, Cavel said when he returned to school he was showered with praises.

“It make me feel popular. When I went back to school my classmates and teachers were happy, and the students dem did a call me Bolt. It made me feel good,” he said. The reference was to Jamaican sprint legend Usain Bolt.

However, the joy Cavel and his mother were feeling dampened a bit when Campbell learned that people on social media were criticising her son for a “lack of sportsmanship”.

“To see them bashing him, it hurt my feelings because what if a one of them child? What would they say? I really and truly feel like discouraging him from running. I just can’t bother with all those people out there who are trying their best to tear down my child,” she lamented.

“They are talking about humility and sportsmanship… he is a child and he reserves the right to be a child until him go high school and start get training and really understand and know more about sporting,” she argued.

Later in the interview this reporter informed her that Bolt, the world record holder in the 100 metres, 200 metres and 4×100 metres relay, and Hansle Parchment, the reigning Olympic champion in the 110 metres hurdles, both liked the video of her son on the Observer’s Instagram account. That lifted her spirits.

“Really? I didn’t even know that. Well at least that makes me feel even more proud of my son,” she said.

Campbell further revealed that she was contacted by a high school track coach who told her to motivate Cavel to continue running.

“He went to Morant Bay to run a week before and a coach from a high school was there and he took my number. So, from that, he is always calling me and telling me to encourage him. I was telling him that I don’t really want him in the running thing because I want him to take up him book. That is just me,” she said, noting that she has never asked Cavel if he wants to be an athlete.

“It is not something we talk about like that, but I will. If you send him to shop, him run; and him always barefoot. Him claim to say that he cannot run in shoes, else him nah go win,” Campbell said.

When the Sunday Observer asked Cavel if he wanted to become an athlete he responded, “Yes, that is something I want to do.”

Twelve-year-old Cavel Nooks, who won the under-15 800m at the National Athletics Championship at the National Stadium last week, is seen in his school uniform.
Cavel Nooks and his mother, Dadrian Campbell
Cavel Nooks displays some of the medals he won on sports day at his school. The 12-year-old says he hopes to become an athlete in the future.
Romardo Lyons

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