Olympic medallist Jarrin Solomon says it was an honour to be selected by the T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC) and energy company bpTT to take part in a week-long High Performance Summit hosted by the Michael Johnson Performance (MJP) Centre, held at the Michael Johnson World Training Centre in McKinney, Texas.
Solomon, the 400-metre specialist who has won a number of medals for T&T on the 4x400m relay teams at major events as the IAAF World Championships and the Olympics was among nine locals–seven athletes and two coaches–who underwent and witnessed strength and endurance training sessions, tips on reducing injury and strategies to further boast performances leading up to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Other athletes attending the summit were Richard Thompson, Kelly-Ann Baptiste, Michelle-Lee Ahye, Semoy Hackett, Machel Cedenio, Mikel Thomas, Emmanuel Callender and Wayne Davis III.
Four-time Olympic medallist Ato Boldon and fellow coach, Eric Francis attended the Summit too, which the TTOC made part of its #10Gold24 athlete preparation programme.
The Road to Rio Summit focused on preparing podium ready athletes in media and mental conditioning exercises, too. In a T&T Guardian interview at the weekend Solomon, 29, said it was clear that officials at the TTOC and bpTT believed he could either secure another medal for this country or multiple medals in Rio.
“I learnt a lot from MJP, because at MJP they focus a lot on fine tuning the specifics; to get that extra out of elite athletes already at the top of their game,” he said.
Solomon expressed delight in being able to access corrective exercise methods designed to make his body stronger, targeting the hips which might have been out of alignment, and strengthening them to re-claim balance.
“We really didn’t focus on one aspect of training. It’s more of getting the strength out of the entire body so that we are able to train to the maximum potential and work hard without, hopefully, having injuries. We did a lot of things focused on preventing injuries,” he said.
“I learnt that I work hard. They pointed out that I work hard. I am usually the first in the building and the last to leave, because I am trying to fine tune and get everything I can out of the day. I’m not an athlete to cut corners, to not do things that are on my programme. I learnt that to be the best, you have to push yourself and continue to do the small things and if you don’t want to do those last set of push-ups, then it would show up on the tracks. So get everything done and be as thorough as possible.”
It was not his first outing at MJP, however. Being proactive, he reached out to the TTOC back in 2014 and made an application to attend the facility with the blessings of the national sporting organisation. He said TTOC president Brian Lewis and his executive approved the request which started his journey from his home in New Mexico to MJP in Texas.
That experience, he said, added more pages to his training handbook. Solomon described the atmosphere at MJP as “really cool” and went on to describe training facilitators as “really professional”.
Even though it was not his first time at MJP, Solomon remained blown away by the quality of international athletes that journeyed to the facility be it from the NFL, golf, bull-riding, track and field and basketball.
“It’s a great atmosphere to have some of the best athletes in the world from multiple disciplines of sports, be at a place, at the same time and learn from each other, seeing how the others train. It was important to be with my national teammates working, as well as with Mr Lewis and Rheeza Grant from the TTOC.
It was important to be with them to show that they are committed to winning a medal as well, and to show that they (TTOC) are willing to work hard and (are) putting in the work to get a medal.
It was good to have us all there trying to learn and do different things. Although some of us are on different programmes and we have different workouts set out by our own personal coaches, it’s good to see that everybody was getting the same tests done; see how the other guys’ tests and see how we match up with each other,” he said.
“We are all competitors, so in certain things, you know, we would see what the other guy did and try and do it better.
So, it was good to have all of us there at the same time, feeding off each other, feeding off the energy of each other. You can feel it’s an Olympic year and people want to put in that extra work to get another medal, because there is no better feeling than to get an Olympic medal and to come back to T&T and (have) everybody support us and love what we are doing.”