After running a personal best of 1:45.89 to claim the South Eastern Conference (SEC) title at the conference championships at the University of Missouri on Saturday, Mississippi State’s Navaskey Anderson said he is just getting started on his way to becoming the best ever 800m runner from Jamaica.

The time, the 14th fastest in the world this year is the fastest by a Jamaican and is just over half a second shy of Seymour Newman’s national record of 1:45.21 set back in 1977.

The former St Jago athlete held off Sam Whitmarsh of Texas A&M and Georgia’s Claymore Pender, who each ran personal best times of 1:46.09 and 1:46.71 for second and third, respectively in the race where the top-six all produced lifetime best performances.

However, for Anderson, a junior at Mississippi State, this is where his quest to go beyond Newman’s 45-year-old record begins.

“My job here is just now getting started,” he told Sportsmax.TV on Sunday.

“My goal is not only to be the best 800m that passes through Jamaica but also to bring the awareness and the spotlight to the younger generation letting them know that we can be dominant in the 800m as well.

“I will stay humble and work, my times will speak for themselves in due time.”

The 21-year-old Anderson has had to put in the work over the past few years to get to this point where he is within touching distance of the long-standing national record that only a few other Jamaicans like Clive Terrelonge (1:45.44), Mario Watson (1:45.58) and Alex Morgan (1:45.58) have got close to.

“To be great in the 800m there has to be a constant shift in mechanism, being able to run a fast 400m or 200m repeats today and being to hit a steady 10 miles the next morning,” said Anderson who stands at a wiry 1.93m (6’ 4”).

“Not everyone has the same body type or is built the way I am. I stay fit with morning runs and coordinate with my strength coach to get workouts that are going to help me move forward at least two to three times weekly.”

The journey to this point has been difficult but he has never given up hope nor lost sight of his goals as an athlete even when things were not going according to plan while he was at St Jago.

“I started high school running the 400m and the 1500m, taking on the 1500m at champs for my first two years. I made the finals both years but it was constant downhill after that,” he said, explaining that he believes “It was just not my time. I was training to the best of my ability but I wasn’t able to compete at a high level at Champs.”

Notwithstanding those early disappointments, Anderson never gave up and his fortunes began to change when he moved on to Essex County College in the United States.

“I stayed motivated and worked with Coach Andrew Kidd, who helped me develop a strong endurance background. I then went to Coach Lionel Leech at Essex County College. From 1:57-mid, coach got me down to 1:52-low is less than two years,” he said.

“I then made a great decision to attend Mississippi State, the right 800m university where Coach Chris Woods worked tirelessly to get my time down from 1:52 to 1:45 and still in progress in less than two years. That is spectacular.”

He said he has no plans to rest on his ‘spectacular’ progress with his goal now clearly in sight.

“I’ll keep working and I’ll keep working,” he concluded.

 

 

 

 

Learning from the mistakes made during the indoor season has resulted in a new personal best in the long jump for Carey McLeod this past weekend when he became the 2021 SEC Outdoor champion.

After achieving personal best marks in both long and triple jumps at the SEC Championships in Fayetteville last weekend, Tennessee’s Carey McLeod believes his best this season is yet to come as he aims to seal a spot on Jamaica’s team to the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

It was all about the comeback for Texas A&M’s Tyra Gittens, who rebounded from a disappointing first day at last week’s SEC Indoor Championships to win two gold medals and consequently, the coveted Cliff Harper Award for scoring the most points.

It was her second hold on the award and the first time an athlete has won it outright since 1997.

In two weeks, she will seek pentathlon redemption at the NCAA National Championships where she intends to break the collegiate record of 4703 points held by Georgia’s Kendall Williams.

“To win the Cliff Harper Award for the second time was definitely a good feeling. After my performance on Thursday, I was definitely down, I was definitely embarrassed, I was definitely upset but it’s all about the comeback. It’s all about how you come back from a terrible performance,” she told Sportsmax.TV.

“We are all human. We are all going to have those days as athletes but I was very proud of myself. This is my first time winning two gold medals at SECs and I was so happy to be able to put up 23 points. It’s reassuring knowing my team can rely on me and I know I can rely on myself to come back from devastating situations.”

Expected to do well in the pentathlon, after scoring a personal best 4612 points at the Texas Tech Invitational on January 29, things could not have gone worse for the 22-year-old Trinidadian in her efforts to defend the title she won in 2020.

The worst of those performances came in the long jump where she only managed to register a mark of 4.11m, well below her season-best of 6.62m.

She was forced to settle for sixth place, her score of 3818 points, a massive 703 shy of the 4501 scored by the newly crowned 2021 champion, Anna Hall of Georgia.

Despondent and embarrassed by her poor showing, Gittens turned to family for refuge.

“After talking to my family and talking to my sister, she played college volleyball, and she said anytime a negative thought would come in she would grab the thought and just throw it away and all of last night (Thursday) that is what I was doing,” she revealed.

“I wouldn’t even let it linger. As soon as I felt some negativity, I just grabbed it and threw it away and it worked because today (Friday) it was only positive and negative Tyra was out of sight.”

It worked.

Within an hour late Friday, Gittens won two gold medals for Texas A&M. First, cleared 1.89m – just shy of her personal best 1.91m - in the high jump to defeat LSU’s Abigail O’Donohogue and avenge her pentathlon loss to Hall, who were second and third, respectively, each having cleared 1.86m.

She then equalled her personal best (6.62m) to win the long jump ahead of LSU’s Aliyah Whisby (6.61m) and Georgia’s Titiana Marsh (6.39m).

“Today (Friday) was all about beating myself because yesterday I let the negative Tyra, the bad Tyra that we don’t like to see, overtake,” said an elated Gittens afterwards.

“I let her win yesterday and today (Friday) I relaxed, I had fun. I did everything that I wanted to do with executing and I cannot be happier. I am exhausted, but I am so proud of myself, and I am very happy.”

The comeback completed, redemption comes next and that will be the point of her focus over the next two weeks.

“These two weeks are going to be very important. I have a lot to work on,” she said. “I am going to use it to train and just get consistent and I am coming for the NCAA record.”

Texas A&M’s Charokee Young will miss out on the SEC Championships that began on Thursday because she has been exposed to someone infected by Covid-19.

Tyra Gittens goes into tomorrow’s SEC Championships in a confident mood seeing how well she has performed indoors this season.

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