World Junior Stars Making the Transition

All but one of Jamaica's World Under 20 Athletics champions has represented the country at the World Championships or the Olympic Games or both. That was the status leading into the recent World Under 20 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya and in addition, the lion's share of the 64 medals won by the nation in individual events has been won by performers who later contested senior global championships. 

1986 WorldJuniorSpeaking on the eve of the Nairobi meet, Jamaica's head coach David Riley says the transition rate would be even greater if not for injuries. "The issue of the transition has to do with the fact that a wider net when it's cast doesn't seem to bring in all the persons we would expect to make the transition but there is enough motivation in the system for several to continue in the programme", said Riley, who heads the coaching team at Excelsior High School. 



Sandie Richards won a bronze medal in the 400 metres at the first edition of the meet in 1986 and now Jamaica has 103 medals overall with 27 gold. Nine (9) of those gold medals came in relays and the remainder from Gillian Russell-Love, Nikole Mitchell, Michael McDonald, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Usain Bolt, Kaliese Spencer, Dexter Lee, Fedrick Dacres, Janieve Russell, Jaheel Hyde, Tiffany James-Rose, Briana Williams, Damion Thomas and Kai Chang. All but Chang, who won the discus at the 2018 World Juniors, have represented Jamaica at the Olympics and/or the senior World Championships.  

In addition, 44 of the 64 medals garnered in individual events were won by athletes who later became Olympians and/or World Championship competitors. 

The debit side of the ledger is still a concern. "Quite a few have exited because of injuries and that's really where the concern has been. Injuries have somewhat robbed individuals of their own dream to move on and become successful at the senior level", Riley lamented. 

He made reference to the recent announcement by 2014 World Under 4x400 relay bronze medalist Martin Manley. "We saw even with Martin Manley announcing his retirement. I'm not sure if he has reconsidered or not". Riley commented, "but there is enough motivation in the system for some to make the move from juniors to seniors."



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