Rawlson Morgan, a Physical Education teacher at the St Vincent Grammar School for the past 20 years, and the man who laid the ground work for Handal Roban’s fledgling sojourn in Athletics thus far, is pleased with the 18-year old’s progress.
Morgan had good reason for being more than elated, when last Saturday Roban broke the St Vincent and the Grenadines and his own National Under-20, 800m record.
This he did at the semi-finals of the event at the World Athletics Under-20 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya.
Roban, competing in the first semi-final, timed 1:48.37, which eclipsed his previous best, as well as the National Under-20 male record of 1:49. 41, achieved two days before in the heats.
More so, the new mark became the senior St Vincent and the Grenadines record too, as it bettered Eversley Linley’s 1:48.60, done in 1992.
But Morgan assessed that it is a plan coming together, as he had to groom Roban into Athletics, as Cricket was his first love.
“When I took him from the Georgetown Secondary School to the St Vincent Grammar School and making that transition to a new environment to what he is doing now, makes me feel really good and I am proud of him,” a beaming Morgan told SEARCHLIGHT last Tuesday.
Contending that it was not all easy and that the physical and mental transition was made harder, as Roban was mainly into Cricket, Morgan disclosed that he had to stave off some negatives from those who opposed the decisions.
Such was Roban’s cricket talent, that he was among the first intake of the Lennox John Cricket Academy in 2017. That same year, Roban was named the SVG Under-15 cricket captain.
However, the move to the all-male institution in Kingstown, gave Morgan more time to work on Roban’s Athletics talents.
“After seeing his potential in track, and he was part of my club, X- Cel, and him being at Georgetown (Secondary), I thought it best to have him with me at the Grammar School, so we could have more time to train… But as everyone can see now, the decision was a good one and his hard work is paying off,” Morgan recounted.
Moving to the St Vincent Grammar School, almost instantly Roban was thrown into the national spotlight when he won gold in the Boys Under-17 800m at the Junior Carifta Games in the Bahamas, in 2018.
When he moved up to the Under-20 age group one year later, Roban took bronze in the 800m, when the Junior Carifta Games were staged in the Cayman Islands.
Also, in 2019, Roban pouched a bronze medal in the Under-18 800m at the NACAC Under-18/ Under-23 Championships, which were held in Mexico.
And, last month, he gained gold in the 800m and silver in the 400m, at the NACAC Under-18/Under-20/Under-23 championships in Costa Rica.
Morgan, though, is not taking all the glory, but is lauding the efforts of his coach and the opportunities of greater exposure at the Jamaica College for Roban’s latest achievements.
As such, he noted, that within the last two years at the institution, he has been having more competition, which has aided in his continuous improved times, especially in his main event, the 800m.
For Morgan, it is for Roban to build on his current form, and strive for greater achievements.
“For me, and the hope of all Vincentians, that he can go on to the Olympics, World Championships, Commonwealth Games and even get a medal,” an aspirant Morgan projected.
Morgan, though, is hopeful that Roban gets enrolled soonest in a US educational institution, so he can further accelerate his athletics prowess.