ALBERT TOWN, Trelawny — As she did last year, Neon Smith will be Albert Town High's lone representative at next week's Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/GraceKennedy Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships and will be eyeing medals in the Class Two girls' 800m and 1,500m events.
Sixteen-year-old Smith, who is in her first year in Class Two, won the double at the recent County of Cornwall Athletics Association (COCAA) Western Championships and her Coach Perhona Tomlin thinks she is ready to challenge for podium spots at the next level.
“From being an athlete to becoming a coach, I don't believe in predictions, but all I am expecting from her is to make it to the finals of both events,” Tomlin said.
Running virtually by herself at the Western Champs final held at the St Elizabeth Technical Sports Complex, Smith lit up both events, winning the 800m in 2:25.18 minutes and the 1,500m in 5:16.12, both with comfortable margins.
At last year's ISSA/GraceKennedy Championships, she was fourth in the 800m and 12th in the 1,500m and while Coach Tomlin is expecting her to do well, rues the fact that she did not get sufficient races this season to get her ready.
Having just one athlete to train can have its drawbacks Tomlin says, “It is hard because there no [is] other athletes to motivates her during training, therefore after school we have to travel to Bellefield High school in Manchester to train with them,” saying her brother also assists with the training.
She says she and her teammates go to Bellefield because their school lacks proper training facilities, a school that has produced a number of outstanding athletes, including Commonwealth Games 200m champion Omar Brown and Andrew Fisher, who now represents Bahrain.
Still, she says Smith, who is adept at both events, is a delight to train.
“Neon's approach to her training is fantastic, she is an athlete who don't want to miss a training session,” Tomlin sai.
“For example, she will be sitting eight CSEC subjects, so she has extra classes on a Monday and Wednesday and she make sure she trains after class in the evenings.”
— Paul Reid