His accomplishments at the junior level are unmatched. With 11 individual medals at the Carifta Games, highlighted by a personal best 3 minutes, 46.57 seconds in the 1500m and numerous mid-distance duels with some of the Caribbean region’s best junior runners, Trinidad and Tobago’s Gavyn Nero
is perhaps the most decorated athlete to compete in the Games.
In the summer of 2009, Gavyn – just out of high school and prior to starting classes at Baylor University in the US – competed in the CAC Games where he placed 3rd in the 800m in a personal best 1:47.51. He then strode into Baylor as one of the best junior mid-distance athletes to have come out of the Caribbean. And expectations were high for track fans, especially Trinidadians. At the same time, one blogger in a Caribbean track and field online forum wondered if he could withstand the demands of the Baylor training.
At the 2011 Arizona State Invitational on March 26, Gavy n ran the 80 0m and placed 8th in 1:51.11. Is this th e same young man who has a personal best 1:47.51? Should Trinidadian track fans be concerned? Since that run, Caribbean Tracklife (CTL) caught up with Gavyn, and he explained what has been going on.
Mentally, physically exhausted
Now in his second year at Baylor, a more mature Gavyn has transformed his body into a stronger, muscle-massed frame. “I am stronger and I feel much better; I have been building my anabolic base,” he told CTL. “In high school, I was running hard every weekend and I was putting a lot of pressure on my body because I had to win. Last year, during my freshman year [at Baylor], I wanted to win every race and so that killed me physically and mentally.”
Noting that the races took a toll on his body, Gavyn pointed out that by the time the outdoor season came around, he was plain exhausted.
So his coach Todd Harbour and the coaching staff at Baylor worked out a training schedule that is less strenuous on his body. “One thing that I am learning right now is to be patient,” the 21-yr-old said, adding that the strategy set up for him this year is designed to keep him fresh for Nationals (NCAA Outdoor Championships), where athletes are required to run three rounds in their events. The goal is also to keep him fresh for the Trinidadian National Trials in the summer.
After the just-concluded indoor season, the Baylor coaching staff intensified his training with the focus on strength and endurance, and he has started speed training only recently.
In addition to the demands of racing, Gavyn’s new eating habits at Baylor weren’t helping him either. Going into Baylor, his taste in foods was truly basic and Caribbean: callaloo with rice, and cornbeef with rice and baked beans. Then he slipped into bad habits, which he said may have contributed to his exhaustion during his freshman year.
With the cafeteria’s all-you-can-eat buffet offering, the then slim Gavyn became a victim of fast foods by putting on a few extra pounds. “Now I eat healthily and I cook my own food,” said the more health-conscious Gavyn.
But while things slowed on the track, his academic pursuits have been on point. “Overall, my classes are going great. I am doing great in mathematics and physics, but I just don’t enjoy my reading classes,” said the Mechanical Engineering major.
This year, Gavyn will continue to focus on the 800m. “My goal is to make the 800m final at the NCAA (outdoor),” he said confidently. And while he is more cautious about making any prediction for the World Championship in Daegu this summer, he is certain of his desire to compete at the London 2012 Olympics.
At this point when Gavyn’s individual stats are not impressive, he remains a team player helping the Baylor Bears score valuable points at meets. Even though he ran 1:51.11 in the 800m on March 26, Gavyn had clocked an indoor best 1:48.20 at the Notre Dame Invitational three weeks before on March 4, 2011. As the season progresses, Gavyn seems poised to become a consistent sub-1:48.00 800m runner. With that in mind, there’s nothing to worry about.