Andre Colebrooke proved this year, that the island of Eleuthera is indeed capable of producing top notch junior talent, as he turned in fantastic performances, and received The Nassau Guardian's Junior Male Athlete of the Year honor, with 24 points.
It was a tight race, as the top four athletes were separated by just four points, and just one point separated the top three.
Bimini native Dario Saunders, who signed a minor league contract in the Cincinnati Reds organization, and LaQuan Nairn, who won gold and silver in the jumps at the BTC CARIFTA Games, finished tied for second in voting, with 23 points apiece. Stephen ‘Dirty’ Newbold, who broke two junior national marks this year, in the 200 and 400m, was fourth with 20 points, and Teray Smith, who won a shocking gold medal in the under-20 boys 200m at CARIFTA, rounded out the top five.
As for Colebrooke, rarely do distance events and distance runners get any spotlight here in The Bahamas, but he proved this year that this is an area that can be very fruitful for The Bahamas. Colebrooke, who currently attends Essex Community College in Newark, New Jersey, broke the national junior mark in the boys 800 meters this year, running a time of 1:50.81 at the Vertklasse Track Meet at High Point University in North Carolina.
That was just the beginning of things to come for Colebrooke in 2013.
That stunning performance represented one of five times in which he ran under Ramon Miller’s former junior national mark of 1:52.27 this year.
At the BTC CARIFTA Games here at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, he ran 1:51.43 for the silver medal behind Trinidad & Tobago’s Mark London (1:51.34).
Colebrooke then represented The Bahamas as a part of a small four-member team at the 17th Pan American Junior Athletics Championships, in Medellin, Colombia.
Against all odds, battling adverse weather conditions in Medellin, Colebrooke brought home The Bahamas’ only medal from those championships.
With the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) mired in a nasty controversy which threatened to cripple the local governing body for the sport, and with a lack of training due to short notice and ongoing coaching disputes, Colebrooke went to Medellin and ran his heart out.
He was third in his semi-final heat, in 1:52.19, and ran a 1:51 in the final for the bronze medal.
The lone medal at the regional championships which came right on the heels of the Moscow World Championships was more than what the 25-member team won in Moscow.
More than 600 young athletes from 47 countries in North, Central and South America, and the Caribbean, competed at the junior pan ams.
The lone medal on a four-member team, from Colebrooke, was a far cry from the 10 medals and third place overall finish a 23-member Bahamian team had at the same championships two years ago in Miramar, Florida, but according to BAAA President Mike Sands, it represented the tremendous resolve of Bahamian athletes this year, and their willingness to succeed despite what is going on around them.
Colebrooke said that his goal is to not only go under 1:50 next year, but also to qualify for a major senior international meet.
The 6'3'' rising star athlete was also a part of the bronze medal winning under-20 boys 4x400m relay team at the CARIFTA Games for The Bahamas, and also delved into the 1,500m where he experienced great success.
He said that he loves running the 800m though, and intends to get even better in 2014.
Baseball standout Saunders and outstanding jumper Nairn finished tied for second, Newbold was third, and Smith rounded out the top five, for The Nassau Guardian's Junior Male Athlete of the Year honor.