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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Sprinting talent in the blood, not skin

Sprinting talent in the blood, not skin

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1 Sprinting talent in the blood, not skin on Sun Nov 03, 2013 1:36 pm



Sprinting talent in the blood, not skin
Daniel Lane
Sydney Morning Herald
November 3, 2013

Among the many messages renowned Jamaican sprint coach Xavier Brown has instilled in Sydney's Jarrod Geddes is that his skin pigmentation counts for nothing on the track.

Geddes, who went head-to-head with Brown's former teammate Usain Bolt when he anchored Australia's 4x100m relay team in the London Diamond League meeting, and then the world championships at Moscow in August, has been identified as a rising star in the blue-ribbon event.

This young guy [is] a one-off.

Brown, who is in Australia to coach the 19-year-old, implored him not to allow racial stereotypes to slow him down. ''In Jamaica, we're looking at this young guy as a one-off,'' Brown said. ''He has everything you could find in a Caribbean athlete … even though the skin colour [is different] … he is there, has what it takes. With his attitude, Jarrod can reach anywhere, the sky is the limit. Jarrod could be the second white man [after Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre in 2010] to run the 100m under that 10-second barrier. He has all that it takes to reach that level.''

Geddes finished sixth in the 2011 World Youth Championships but he was identified by the likes of Brown and Jamaica's head coach Maurice Wilson as ''something special'' when he trained at the Caribbean island nation as part of a ''track pact'' between Jamaica and Australian company Competitive Edge. ''He said he knew Jarrod was made for the big stage,'' Wilson's manager Hayden Knowles said of the faith in Geddes. ''It's a huge vote of confidence.''

For Geddes, learning to run the Jamaica way added to the experience he's built upon since being blooded for the big time with the 4x100m national relay team alongside Tim Leathart, Andrew McCabe and Joshua Ross. ''It's made me more hungry to compete on the big stage but I also felt as though I belonged,'' he said. ''I went out there and thought, 'how amazing is this experience? I get to race these very quick guys, I get to represent my country' but in a strange way it didn't feel that special because I felt like I belonged there.

''But I know I have to work hard and that's driving me. It was incredible to hear what Maurice Wilson said days out before the World Championships, but I gained even more confidence from realising the confidence the head coach of the best track and field country in the world has in me.''

Geddes, who is coached by Michael Dooley, said taking his place on the track alongside Bolt was an important part of his education.

''It was a big thing having a lot bigger guys in stature alongside me but to have Usain Bolt, who is as big a figure as he is personality, was enormous but I realised I needed to focus on my race and what I had to do,'' he said. ''I belonged there but I had a lot of discussion with my coach and how I had to step it up a bit. He made sure I was ready to run and, apart from working on technique, we worked on mental preparation. I was in a good spot and thought I did all right [Australia finished fourth in London].''

According to Dooley, Geddes benefited from the Jamaican secrets. ''Jarrod came back from Jamaica with so many good ideas we tried to put them all in place,'' he said.

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