When 17yearold Shane Brathwaite completed the Boys Octathlon here in Ostrava with a new personal best record of 6261 points he became not only Barbados’ first World Youth champion but his country’s first ever athletics gold medal winner in a global competition at any level.
The Caribbean island’s best result at a senior outdoor global competition was sprinter Obadele Thompson’s bronze medal winning performance in Sydney 2000 Olympic Games where he clocked 10.04 to finish third in the men’s 100m final.
Ryan Brathwaite who is not a relative of Shane, went one better when he grabbed the silver medal with a 13.44 clocking in the Boy’s 110m Hurdles at the Marrakech edition of the World Youth Championships.
But it wasn’t until this afternoon that the country’s national anthem was played as Brathwaite was presented with the gold medal in Ostrava’s Vitkovice Arena.
“It feels nice to be the World champion,” said Brathwaite minutes after the 1000 metres, the eighth and last event of the competition. “I’m shattered though. I feel very tired.”
“I was hoping to win a medal and improve on as many personal bests as possible but I didn’t really think I could get the gold.”
Brathwaite actually improved on five of his best marks including a 14.45 110m Hurdles worth 917 points, his best score over the two days. He also scored 880 points at 400m, an event in which he was the fastest of the field.
“I think my strongest event is the 400 metres and my weakest events are the Shot Put and the Javelin although I have been working hard to improve my throwing technique.”
Team coach Alwyn Babb was particularly excited about Brathwaite, a student at St James Secondary coming into the championships.
"If you analyse the listing carefully, his weakest event is the shot put, so he just has to hang in there. But based on the improvement he has made in performances in other events, he should be in medal range. He should have over 6000 points. He is world class," Babb said.
The coach’s expectations were proved right as he was the first man to praise Brathwaite for his achievements.
“I was very nervous watching from the stands because the Octathlon is a competition where you can gain points in each event but you can also lose points in each event. Shane is a very determined person, he likes training and I’m not that surprised at his excellent result. He is a joy to coach and I wish everyone was like him in training.”
Winner of the CAC Junior Octathlon last year, Brathwaite just missed out on a medal at the CARIFTA Games this year. His next target is to win a medal at next year’s World Junior Championships Decathlon, an event which includes the Pole Vault and the Discus Throw.
“I will have to train harder next year. I have tried the Pole Vault last year for the first time and cleared 2.50m after only 30 minutes of training. We don’t have any Poles in Barbados; I was just borrowing someone else’s pole at the CAC Games.”
“I chose the Decathlon because I was good at more than just one event. I don’t know any big star in the Decathlon though. I like Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay. They are my favourites.”
Brathwaite is currently looking into getting a scholarship in the US a move which would take him away from his native Barbados as early as next November.
“I don’t really care where I will end up as long as they have a good training programme, I’ll be very happy to go.”
Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF