Gonzales aims high with Papine
Former national senior 400 metres record holder Jermaine Gonzales will make his international debut as the head of Papine High's track and field programme when four athletes compete at the Penn Relays, currently taking place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
Papine started competing yesterday in the preliminary round of the boys' 4x100 and 4x400 metres relays, and after one year, Gonzales is pleased with what he has seen so far.
"In my first year, I am pleased with what I have seen, as at the Corporate Area Championships, the girls won the sprint medley relay, while at Champs, the guys improved massively in their events.
"Some took off nearly half a second off their best in the sprints, while when I started, some of them were running 53 seconds in the 400 metres, and they are now running low 50s," Gonzales said.
Quizzed why he chose Papine, Gonzales responded: "When I started my high school career, I attended Tacius Golding, which was a non-traditional team like Papine. I like these challenges because I like to build on something instead of getting ready-made athletes.
"When you take no-name athletes and get them to improve, it shows how good you are as a coach. Also, I want to be in charge of my own programme, as based on my experience, I know what I can do."
Gonzales is happy for the experience Papine will get competing at the Penn Relays.
"We brought four guys here to run in the 4x100 and 4x400 metres relays. We wanted to bring a fifth one as a reserve, but it did not happen, but we will have to play it safe with the four," he said.
"This will be the first Penn Relays for them, and it is also the first time they are travelling, and I am not putting any pressure on them, as I want them to gain some experience and to enjoy themselves," Gonzales continued.
Gonzales was part of Jamaica men's senior 4x400 metres relay, which won at the Penn Relays in 2005 in the USA vs the World battle.
Gonzales wants more support for Papine's programme.
"Support can be better, but the principal and teachers are doing their best, and I think it will get better. Also, we want to build a large alumni base, as with this type of support, things will be much better going forward," he said.