Navasky Anderson embraces Pan Am athletics captaincy
Navasky Anderson prepares at the National Stadium in Santiago, Chile, on Friday before he takes the track at the Pan Am Games.Photo: Karl Mclarty

SANTIAGO, Chile — National 800m record holder Navasky Anderson is a young athlete but is nevertheless aware of his growing experience and role within Jamaica's track and field set-up.

At 23 years old he is now on his fourth major duty for Jamaica, having represented at the 2020 Olympic Games, the World Athletics Championships in 2022 and last August, and now at the Pan American Games.

Such faith has been placed in him that he has been named the national athletics team's captain. With such a responsibility there is an expectation of him to lead by example, especially as the athletics team at these Games is a small contingent, including persons who are experiencing competition at this level for the first time. He sees this role as a great responsibility but one which he is ready for.

"I'm here to lead by example," Anderson told the Jamaica Observer after a training session on Friday afternoon. "It's such an honour for me because I know it could be the first of many such opportunities to come, so I just want to do my job to the greatest of my ability, encourage my teammates, motivate everyone around me to produce some form of greatness."

Anderson says representing the nation this many times so far does not necessarily mean each trip is easier, but he values the opportunity it has provided for him to learn and grow as an athlete.

"It's about learning more to implement into the training and try to get a better understanding of what is expected, and try to induce it into greater performances," he said.

Anderson has had the best season of his career so far, clocking a national record of 1:44.70 minutes in Washington DC last July. That time has also qualified him for the Paris Olympic Games next summer. But he is not content to stop there, which is one of the reasons he has continued competing this late into the season, unlike many of his colleagues. He says there is still more to achieve.

"For Navasky Anderson there is always a goal on the table, there's always a goal that lies ahead," he said. "Starting the year, one of my main goals was qualifying for Paris 2024. I told myself: 'It's going to probably take me even up until the Pan American Games and I'm willing and able to do anything to keep advancing, keep putting Jamaica's 800m on the map.'

"I'm looking to keep motivating individuals and just being a bigger brother for the younger ones out there looking up to me, not just in Jamaica but also all over the United States, the Caribbean, South America, Central America. There are many looking up to me in the 800m scene so I want to continue to improve.

"I know I'm not perfect — I'm not the best at it — but I'm trying to do what I can do to just motivate individuals."

Anderson says the national middle-distance programme is growing, and praises his female counterparts for the work they have done in recent years.

"They're doing an excellent job; I must commend them," he said. "The males are stepping up too; it's coming little by little but there's a lot of progress being made so we have to keep that motivation going."

But while Anderson dreams of being the next Pan American champion over 800m, he is not getting carried away with his ambitions.

"I'm just taking it day by day, step by step," he said. "For me, it's just being myself, just performing."

Anderson competes in the men's 800m on November 3.

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