Jamaican Joins Graham

Sekou to join Gatlin’s camp
Clarke ready for the big times
Kayon Raynor, Observer staff reporter
Thursday, May 25, 2006

CLARKE… former Jamaica College track star

2000 World Junior mile-relay gold medallist Sekou Clarke is set to join World and Olympic sprint champion Justin Gatlin at Sprint Capitol USA in North Carolina.

In doing so, Clarke would become the second Jamaican athlete to train at the Sprint Capitol camp, joining former national 100 and 200 metres champion Dwight Thomas.
Sprint Capitol, which was formed in 1993 to develop and create world class track and field athletes in the sprints at the professional level, is coached by world renowned Jamaican, Trevor Graham.

Athletes such as Gatlin, Olympic gold medalists Antonio Pettigrew and Marion Jones, and former 100m world record-holder Tim Montgomery have all trained under coach Graham, excelling in their events in claiming national and international titles.

In an exclusive interview with the Observer last Monday, Graham, who represented Jamaica at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, confirmed that young Clarke, a former Jamaica College star, could be joining his training camp.

“Well, I’m definitely interested in Sekou… myself and his dad (Calabar coach Michael Clarke) we’ve been friends now for over 15 years, and he came and ask me to coach his son and it’s something that I don’t think I’m going to turn down because, when a man puts his trust in you to work with his son… it’s something that I’m looking forward to… and I think I can definitely help Sekou to run faster…”

On May 14, Clarke, who is due to graduate with a degree in tourism and business management from the University of Florida, posted a career best 45.82 seconds while placing second at the South Eastern Conference, (SEC) outdoors.
The 22-year-old told the Observer last Saturday that joining Sprint Capitol USA would be a dream come true.

“It’s something I’m really excited about and looking forward to, because it can only have a positive impact on my track and field career after college,” he said.

According to the former teenage prodigy who starred in the lower classes at Boys’ Champs, "So far this has been my best Collegiate season ever… I’ve been running 46-flat indoors and I ran 45.82 in my second 400 metres (outdoors).
“I have regionals coming up next week (this week), then NCAA’s two weeks after and hopefully, I can get down as close to 44 seconds as possible.”

To those who may have been saying that he had disappeared after his early promise at the high school level, Clarke said, "For the past few years I just had to take care of some business (studying). "I haven’t gone anywhere and the times will tell.

“This year I will be definitely coming out of the slumber and in years to come I will definitely be a heavy contender where the 400 is concerned nationally and internationally.”

Checks with the elder Clarke revealed that Sekou will be graduating with 3-point-plus Grade Point Averaged (GPA), one that he has maintained since entering college in 2002.
Meanwhile, Graham is aiming to recruit St Jago past student, 22-year-old Kerron Stewart, who’s now attending Auburn University in the United States.

“Hopefully, I can get her this year or next year, because she’s running extremely well, and I’ve been interested in her before when she wasn’t that fast because I’ve been watching her now for the past two years… because I’m still looking for that female talent out of Jamaica that I can actually mold and can probably turn in a next sub-11 athlete,” he said.

On May 14, Stewart recorded career best times in the 100 and 200 metres on the NCAA circuit, posting a then world leading 11.03 secs in the 100 metres and 22.85 in the 200 metres.