Updated 09 August 2011
Tabarie HENRY, United States Virgin Islands (200m, 400m)
Born: 01 December 1987, St Thomas, Virgin Islands
Lives: College Station, Texas, USA
Coaches: Pat Henry, Alleyne Francique
Manager: Paul Doyle
Meet the Usain Bolt of “Call of Duty”. Tabarie Henry describes himself as “an animal at that video game”.
“If I can be a pro in Call of Duty, I’ll be like Bolt.”
Henry is a pro, a pro athlete. At the end of the 2011 American collegiate season, he signed a contract with sports goods manufacturer Mizuno, with whom he was already running as a college athlete. But though he is new to the professional ranks, the United States Virgin Islands (ISV) quarter-miler is already well-established.
Henry’s breakthrough season was 2008. In April, at a meet in Arkansas, USA, he dived under 46 seconds for the very first time. Henry clocked 45.42 seconds – a new national record. Four months later, he reached the semi-final round at the Olympic Games, in Beijing, China. In his semi-final heat, Henry finished seventh in a personal best 45.19 seconds.
There was more improvement in 2009. On May 23, in Kansas, USA, Henry joined the sub-45 club, the ISV athlete completing his lap of the track in 44.77 seconds. That clocking is the current national record.
In August, Henry dived under 45 seconds a second time, clocking 44.97 to finish second in his semi-final heat, at the World Championships, in Berlin, Germany. In the championship race, he finished just outside the medals, copping fourth spot in 45.42 seconds.
In 2010, Henry clocked 45.07 to claim silver at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games, in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.
But in June 2011, Henry suffered his biggest disappointment. Keen to close off his collegiate career with a bang, the Texas A University student did not even make it to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1 men’s 400 metres final.
Henry wants to make up for his NCAA failure by realising two of his big 2011 goals.
“Making the medal stand (at the World Championships); running under 44.4.”
Henry has so far produced one sub-45 run this season, the 23-year-old athlete stopping the clock at 44.83 seconds to triumph at the Louisiana State University (LSU) Invitational, in Louisiana, USA, on April 2.
Though born in the US Virgin Islands, Henry has lived in the US for most of his life. He was just six when he moved to Miami, Florida.
Henry currently lives in College Station, Texas, and trains there with American sprinter Wallace Spearmon, Bahamian quarter-miler Demetrius Pinder and Zambian sprinter Gerald Phiri. Spearmon, Pinder and Phiri are not only his training partners. They are also his close friends.
Another close friend is American Bershawn “Batman” Jackson, the 2005 400 metres hurdles World champion.
“I ran summer track with him when we were younger.”
Henry also names Jackson as his idol in the sport. And outside of track and field, the person he admires the most is his mother, Jennifer Rolle.
“She’s such a hard worker.”
Henry also knows about work ethic. Soon after he started running track, he was sidelined for six months by a shin injury.
“I had a serious hairline fracture that sat me out for a long time, but it made me determined to come back harder.”
There is one area, though, in which Henry lacks work ethic – hair grooming. The result is the dreadlocked hairstyle he now sports.
“Dreads came along because I was lazy with my hair.”
Now, it’s part of his identity.
“I wouldn’t be Tabarie without the dreads.”
With his dreadlocks pulled back in one and bouncing on his back as he makes his way round the track, Henry is easily spotted by track and field fans.
The young quarter-miler is a fan himself. He loves his sport, and follows the action closely at meets.
“I'm a huge fan. I watch every event, and I know times and names.”
When he’s not training under the watchful eyes of his coaches, Pat Henry and Alleyne Francique, or competing at meets in the US or Europe, Henry loves to shop for shoes and watch movies.
Coach Francique has competed at the highest level. At the 2004 Olympic Games, in Athens, Greece, the Grenadian finished fourth in the men’s 400 metres final in 44.66 seconds.
Henry is planning to make his second Olympic appearance next year, and he wants to surpass his coach’s achievement. The Virgin Islander is eyeing the London podium.
Another of Henry’s career goals is consistency.
“Run 44 seconds every time I touch the track.”
Clocking sub- 45 on a regular basis would be a fitting tribute to the efforts of his high school coach, Sheldon Brown.
“He pushed me every day.”
Thanks to that constant encouragement to work harder in the early stages of his track and field career, Henry is among the best quarter-milers in the world today. To remain among the globe’s one-lap elite, he will have to keep working hard.
Henry is not afraid of the painful labour required to be a world class quarter-miler. Nor is he afraid to say what’s on his mind. Henry describes himself as outspoken. And like many people in his age bracket, the social network avenue is often the one he chooses for self-expression.
Henry’s preference is expressing himself in 144 characters or less, a skill he is constantly honing.
“I love Twitter. Follow me @ifeargodnotthem.”
Henry, aka @ifeargodnotthem, has tweeted more than 20,000 times, and at last count, had 1,610 followers on Twitter. Clearly, he’s a huge fan of the popular social network.
But what matters much more than how many people follow Henry’s tweets is qualification for the 2011 World Championship men’s 400 metres final, and, once he books a lane in that race, the number of quarter-milers that follow him to the line.
In 2009, the count was four. If he can increase that number to five or more, Henry would have the satisfaction of becoming the first athlete from the ISV to climb the podium at the global outdoor meet.
200: 20.71 (2009)
400: 44.77 (2009)
200/400: 2005: 48.21; 2006: 46.51; 2007: 21.81/47.04; 2008: 20.92/45.19; 2009: 20.71/44.77; 2010: 21.13i, 21.10w/45.07; 2011: 21.12, 20.79w/44.83
2008 2nd NACAC** Under-23 Championships (Toluca) (400) 45.37
2009 6th CAC* Championships (Havana) (4x100) 39.89
2009 7th CAC* Championships (Havana) (4x400) 3:07.05
2009 4th World Championships (Berlin) (400) 45.42
2010 2nd CAC* Games (Mayaguez) (400) 45.07
* CAC = Central American & Caribbean
**NACAC = North America, Central America & Caribbean
Prepared by Kwame Laurence for the IAAF “Focus on Athletes” project. Copyright IAAF 2011