Strategic programme needed for 800m crew, says former athlete

December 21, 2016
Ian Allen/Photographer Shevan Parks centre from Bellefield high winning heat one of the class one boys 800 metres ahead of Gawayne Porter left from Calabar, Oyeth Bailey (second left) from Spauldings High, and Algerian Jackson from Christiana High.

Marvin Watts, the last Jamaican to compete in the men's 800 metres at the World Championships, believes that the country can do well in the two-lap event.

His advice to aspiring 800-metre men is to move to a middle-distance training programme when their high school days are over and to stick with it.

Speaking from first-hand experience, Watts pinpointed the heavier training load done by the athletes from the African middle-distance super power as the big difference.

He outlined the steps needed to make progress.

"That would entail after high school going into a middle-distance programme, whether locally or overseas, having the right coaches, and sticking to a programme."

personal best

Watts competed in the 800 semi-finals in the 1998 Commonwealth Games, the 2000 Olympics, and the 2001 World Championships.

At the 2001 World Champs, the slender Jamaican strode through his heat in 1:46.43 seconds, a personal best that lodges him at number 10 in the Jamaican all-time 800-metre performance list.

"It's really tough to make it to the finals", said the former St George's College and University of South Carolina star.

"But again, I think what I would have needed and what other athletes would need is to join a strategic training programme," he added.

"The programme will get you there and that's what many athletes worldwide do. If you speak to them, they were average runners in high school, but they stuck to a programme which entails endurance training, stamina training, speed work, and over time you will come down in time and you will make the grade."

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