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James makes graceful exit
Six-time national 800m champion Jamaal James has decided to step away from the track after competing for 17 years.
In a message on Monday posted on his facebook page and followed up with an interview, he confirmed his retirement as an athlete. He wrote, “Well this is the end! I would like to announce my retirement as an elite level track and field athlete.
The middle-distance runner is leaving on his own terms and he feels blessed to have experienced a healthy career.
“I go out gracefully,” said James. “I have no bitterness. I have travelled all over the world. The pros out-way the cons, I feel good, but when the fire is gone, it’s time to move on. I will be missing out the Commonwealth Games but, I have no regrets.”
On the weekend, James participated in the National Association of Athletics Administrations of T&T (NAAATT) Pre-Commonwealth Meet at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port-of-Spain.
Like a number of local athletes, he was attempting to seal a spot on the national track and field team for the upcoming Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia.
James faced the starter in the men’s 8oo metres event and advanced to the final with the fastest qualifying time of one minute and 49.39 seconds on Sunday. However, he was unable to finish the race, ending any chance to making the team.
“My very last race was Sunday. I signed off with a 1:49.34 at the T&T Pre Commonwealth Meet in the prelims then I final I rabbited the race up to 400m to help the next generation achieve their goals,” said James in his statement.
“Athletics has given me more than I could have ever hoped for. I began as a 12-year-old in 2001 and retire as a 29-year-old veteran of the sport. In between I met a host of awesome people and enjoyed many highs and a few lows!”
In his retirement, the two-time Central American and Caribbean (CAC) junior 800m champion echoed a similar sentiment to a number of local athletes in recent times about the financial restraints of being an elite athlete in T&T.
“In spite of very minimal support from the administrative powers in T&T, I was able to run between the 1:48.86 and 1:46.57 for 12 years, consecutively.
“Things has always been this way, it has been a struggle,” said James. “It is only now that athletes are speaking out but I am genuinely satisfied with my career and grateful for what I have been able to achieve.”
He went on to detail his achievements during his academic and professional career and the pride it has brought to him, mentioning those who had helped him along the way, thanking them for their contributions.
James spoke about securing a Communication Studies Degree at his dream school, Louisiana State University and elaborated on his proudest moments in the sport.
“My fifth place finish at the 2005 World Youth Championships in Morocco where I was the lone athlete from the Western Hemisphere to make the final. I was able to secure this achievement whilst sitting my CXC/GCSE exams at Trinity College Moka and attained all eight subjects.
“Setting the national junior 800m record of 1:47.00 at the South Eastern Conference Championships in Tuscaloosa, Alabama as a freshman at LSU and winning the 800m bronze medal at 2015 North America Central America and Caribbean (NACAC) Championships in San Jose, Costa Rica as a self coached athlete.
“I wrote the programme and my fiance Desiree John timed the workouts.”
James used the medium to thank the NAAA’s, T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC) and Ministry of Sport staff, the medical staff, massage therapists, all his coaches over the years and his family.
“I have learnt a lot from each and everyone of you. Thanks for dedicating your lives to making others better.
“I have saved the best thank you for last, thanks to my family who gave me the platform to pursue my dreams,” said James, who views his career as a tremendous journey that has now come to an end but promised to remain involved in the sport
“I will still be in the sport involved at a coaching and mentorship level,” said the two-time Carifta 800m champion.
• Six-time Senior T&T 800m champion
• Two-time Carifta 800m champion
• Two-time CAC Junior 800m champion
• Pan American Jr 800m Silver Medal
• NACAC Senior 800m Bronze Medal
• Two-time SEC 800m champion
• Two-time NCAA 800m All American
• IAAF World Youth Championship final
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