Fully fit Smith Band ready to strike a tune for JC
SMITH BAND...last year definitely matured me in certain ways and showed me how much damage I can do once I'm healthy (Photo: Observer file)

Malique Smith Band learnt all about patience in the long months spent rehabilitating following a groin injury.

So now, with a clean bill of health, the 18-year-old sprinter has been gradually rounding into form. Biding his time, he awaits a return to the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/GraceKennedy Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships as part of Jamaica College's star-studded team.

For Smith Band, the 21.13 seconds clocking to top the Under-20 boys' 200m final at the recent Carifta trials was but a glimpse of what is to come at the March 28 to April 1 spectacle at the National Stadium, as he prepares to make the transition from the high school level.

"I'm looking forward to staying healthy and also to win titles. I'm very pleased and grateful with how my season started so far, and the accomplishments I've already registered in the short space of time are just a sign of things to come," Smith Band told the Jamaica Observer.

"So I think this championship will be a great one. It will take a good fight where our school winning is concerned, but we have the quality and I think the athletes are ready to compete.

"On a more personal note, I trust my coach and that's one of the most important things in an athlete's career, the chemistry they have with their coach, so I'm just staying focus, not getting too complacent, and working hard to ensure I continue improving," the final year Class 1 athlete added.

Reflecting on last year's disappointments, Smith Band said the injury not only strengthened his mental resolve but also forced him to learn how to really take care of his body.

"Yeah, last year was a very important year for me, I learnt a lot from that season, especially after the injury as it groomed me into a more patient and dedicated sprinter.

"So after being humbled by the groin I recovered in time and was able to compete at Penn Relays and also came back at the National Junior trials and placed third in the 200m, which was very surprising given the fact that I wasn't really back to my optimum," Smith Band explained.

"Coach Harrison and I always had a plan since I transferred from Manchester high to Jamaica College. He always reminds me to remain focus and last year definitely matured me in certain ways and showed me how much damage I can do once I'm healthy," he noted.

That said, Smith Band, who has personal best times of 20.98s, 47.58s, and 1:59.70 for the 200m, 400m, and 800m, respectively, knows there is still more work to be done to really tap into his true potential on the track.

"Physically, I feel much better… a lot stronger, fitter, more comfortable. but, like I said, there is no room for complacency, just more improvements because my aim is to achieve a scholarship to a university and just continue to run faster each time I compete, and win more titles," he ended.

BY SHERDON COWAN Staff reporter cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

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