US-born runner Lawrence clings to dream of representing Jamaica


US-born runner Lawrence clings to dream of representing Jamaica

Observer Writer

Sunday, May 17, 2020

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After being forced to pull out of the men's 400m at last year's Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association's (JAAA) National Championships at the National Stadium due to illness, American-born sprinter Wayne Lawrence is not giving up on his dreams to represent Jamaica in international track and field competition.

The Ohio-born athlete, who created history at the University of Iowa earlier this month when he was named Big Ten Track Athlete of the Year after winning the 200m and 400m double at the Indoors Conference in February, says he intends to be back for the Jamaican Trials as he chases his dreams of representing the country where both his parents were born.

Lawrence, whose father Wayne senior represented Calabar High and his mother Sherdon Smith competed for the all powerful Vere Technical, said “I was pulled (from Trials) because my trainer felt that it was the right call based on my health at the time. I had gotten sick and he didn't want me hurting myself to try and run.”

With his dream deferred and with the Olympics set for next year in Tokyo, Japan, Lawrence said, “I am coming back to try and make the Jamaican national team.”

“It is my dream to represent the country,” Lawrence said.

Born in the USA, he qualified to run for that country, but told the Jamaica Observer both his parents played a big part in his decision.

“They had a big part of which country I should run for. I want to represent not only my parents, but also the country and bring Jamaican sprinting back to the top,” he noted.

Despite his three wins at the Big Ten indoors conference the 200m in an indoor best 20.85 seconds; the 400m in a SPIRE Institute record 45.56 seconds; and as a part of the winning 4x400m relay team Lawrence said he was still surprised that he won the award.

“Yes, I was actually surprised. I was mainly surprised that they voted on it and there was a lot of good talent this year; my teammate Jaylan McConico led the Big Ten in the hurdles, just as I did, it was a lot of all-round performances,” he said.

“I didn't really think about the Big Ten Athlete of the Year award, I thought it would have been based on how I did at nationals... I only knew that because of my performance at Big Ten I would win athlete of the meet,” Lawrence added.

After a strong indoor season where he had also run the third fastest 400m in the nation, Lawrence was confident he could win the title at the indoors national, but the last minute cancellation of the event that would have been held at the University of New Mexico left him disappointed.

“I was very mad at the moment in time; I was [angry] mostly because I felt like I was in a good position to win the whole thing. But as things kept happening and seeing where the world is right now, it was probably for the best,” he said, adding he thought he would have won the 400m and his Iowa team could have taken the 4x400m title as well.

He ran the third leg on the Iowa team that clocked a school record 3:04.76 seconds and won at Big Ten as well.

Asked to make a choice between the 200m and the longer 400m, Lawrence said, “The 400 is my bread and butter and the 200 is mostly for speed, but I love the 400m better [because] I can open up more.”

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