Jamilia Alves discovered she had a passion for track and field in 2019 when she first competed in Primary Champs. She was in grade two at the time. Today she is one of the champion athletes of the event, topping the podium in the 200 and 400-metre races, as well as the 4x100m and 4x200m relays at the last staging.
"It felt good breaking records and I am very proud of myself and what I achieved because I pushed myself really hard in the race to break the record. I felt like my achievements were all because of God," the 11-year-old told the Jamaica Observer.
In the 200-metre, Jamilia shattered the 27.76 seconds record by clocking an impressive 27.44.
She and her teammates also broke the record in the 4×100-metres and the 4×200-metres relays. In the 4x100m their time was 53.49 seconds, well ahead of the old record at 53.76, while their 1:53.28 in the 4x200m was well ahead of the previous record of 1:54.48.
At 1:03.52, she was just a whisker away from toppling the 400-metre record of 1:03.39.
Jamilia is proud of all her victories but the 200-metre sprint, she said, is her favourite event. It comes naturally to her.
"I think is it an easy race and I like the distance," the grade six Spanish Town Primary School student explained.
As she looks forward to transition into the secondary education system in September, there is a reason she has her eyes set on Hydel High.
"They have a good track and field programme and good education," Jamilia noted.
She has so far done a good job finding enough hours in the day to do both academics and sports — training in the morning and studying at night — although it has been a challenge because of the sheer number of tasks to complete.
"It is not easy sometimes because there are times when I feel tired from training," Jamilia explained.
At those times she thinks about sprint legend Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce to keep her motivated.
"She inspires upcoming athletes like myself in giving directions on how to be a great athlete and she has accomplished a lot in her career," Jamilia said.
She is also incredibly grateful for the support provided by her parents, Davion and Roxanne Alves.
"My parents' support has been very good because they motivate me to always try and do my best. They also inform me that I will win some and lose some, but it is how I react after losing that will decide my next step in life. They also try to provide everything that I need to be successful in track and field," she noted.
"Jamilia is a very friendly, caring, and competitive child," er mother told the Observer. "She doesn't like losing in anything, whether it be in academics or sports. She always wants to be number one. She can be stubborn and spoiled at times, but I guess that is because she is an only child for both parents. Our goal for her is to be successful in life, both academically and in her track and field career, in being the next top athlete for Jamaica."
Jamilia's classroom teacher, Estefann Diley, said she represents the motto of the school.
"Jamilia is a lovely girl with a vibrant personality and is respectful to all her peers and those in authority. Academically, she works very hard to achieve the best results and she would never settle for less. Just like our school mantra, she lives and dreams excellence. I'm already so proud of her," said Diley.
Those qualities were obviously instilled in Jamilia by her parents and her church — New Hope Seventh-day Christian in Spring Village, Old Harbour.
"The church has helped in my development as a young girl by educating me on the fact that God will lead me on the right path and that I must praise Him on my good and bad days," she explained.
"I feel like I have a family at church, and they are very supportive. The church has helped me in changing my behaviour and personality towards people. I try to encourage my classmates and fellow track members to love each other," Jamilia said.