Ryon Jones, Gleaner Writer
Twelve months ago the Asafa Powell Found-ation was launched with one of its aims being to contribute to the personal welfare of track and field athletes, especially those within the age range of 12 to 25.
The foundation took the first step towards achieving this objective yesterday when $290,000 was handed over to a number of outstanding athletes from last year’s Gibson Relays and Boys and Girls’ Championships.
The Wolmer’s Boys Class Four 4x100m team, which recorded a time of 44.51 seconds, and the St Jago High’s Class Four girls’ sprint quartet that clocked 47.50 seconds to both take their events at the Gibson Relays were presented with $60,000 each.
Six athletes were also selected from Boys and Girls’ Champs to receive $20,000 each. They were top Class One athletes Natoya Goule (Manchester High) and Chad Wright (Calabar), while Shericka Jackson (Vere Technical) and Odean Skeen (Wolmer’s Boys) were selected from Class Two. The Class Three recipients were Diana Johnson (Holmwood Technical) and Rohan Walker (Jamaica College), while Shauna Helps (Wolmer’s Girls) was chosen from Class Four.
Awarded for record run
In commemoration of the 100th year of Boys and Girls’ Champs, a cash award of $30,000 was presented to St Jago High’s Kevaughn Rattray, who produced the only sprint record of the meet. Competing in the Class Three boys 100 metres, Rattray stopped the clock at 10.90 seconds
Former 100-metre world record holder, Asafa Powell, was very happy to be able to give back to the youths of the country.
“Last year we started the Asafa Powell Foundation and this is the first contribution we are making back to the young athletes,” Powell pointed out while speaking at the handover cere-mony held at the Courtleigh Hotel. “It is nothing big but I am still happy that I can come and give back, and it will only get better and better in the years to come,” he added.
Powell is looking to make it an annual event as he seeks to give young athletes the start he did not get.
“We are going to try and build the foundation and keep giving. It is going to be an annual affair, and even when I retire it is something that I am going to look to be doing still,” Powell disclosed. “I have been through it, I know what it is like and there was a time when I needed the help and no one was there to help,” he added.
Johnson, who won the 100m and 200m in both Class Four and Three, as well as helping her sprint relay team to gold in both classes at consecutive Champs, was naturally proud to have been selected for the award.
Johnson said: “I am really proud of myself being here right now, I never thought that it was going to be me. It helps me a lot right now because, having been selected, I want to be selected again, so I am going to push myself towards it.”
Skeen, winner of the 100 and 200m class two races at Champs, was also very happy.
“It is a good feeling to be collecting an award from Asafa Powell because he is my role model overall,” Skeen said.