Dinthill Technical's Charissa December hopes to celebrate her 17th birthday in style today at the National Stadium.
To do so, December is not only targeting a new personal best for the 400m, but more importantly a spot in Thursday's medal event on her debut appearance at the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association/GraceKennedy Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships.
The Guyanese-born December showed some pedigree when she placed second in her heat of the girls' Class Two 400m in a personal best 56.59s.
With that time December progressed as the eighth-fastest athlete for today's semi-finals, but given the ease in her performance she declared there is more in reserve to produce something explosive.
"I am very pleased with my performance. I achieved a personal best — which was the aim coming into the race — but I also tried not to push myself too hard, just wanted to do enough to make sure I qualified," December told the Jamaica Observer after catching her breath.
"I turn 17 tomorrow [today] so I am hoping to put in another good performance as I would love to get into the final to bring a medal back to Dinthill Technical, but even if I don't I just want to keep working on my time," she added.
Though it is a mere seven months since she has been in the island, December, who came to Jamaica to hone her athletic ability, pointed out that she has already learnt a lot, which has been integral to her development.
"Obviously the athletic talent in Jamaica is great, the people are great, and so I am just enjoying the experience. Obviously the training and all is a lot different from what I am use to, but it didn't take me long to adjust mentally and physically because I always believe that athletics chose me and I am currently enjoying the path that I am on," December shared.
"So it has been great. The beauty about the school is that it is in the countryside so it is cool, and I feel like that gives us an advantage in training. I have learnt a lot of things so far and I believe I just have to continue taking advantage of it to keep getting better, so I would say so far so good," she noted.
While cognisant the competition will be significantly enhanced for the semi-final, the outspoken December believes she will be competing against herself, from a mental perspective.
"I just have to go out there and give it my best. It doesn't matter who I am running against; I believe in myself, and I believe I can go out there, get into the final and medal. The only way I can't win is if I don't want to win," the sixth-form student declared.
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