Kevion Minzie does not love the limelight.
But he is the primary school coach and teacher who first identified and started nurturing the athletic abilities in sprinting sensation Christopher Taylor and Ashanti Moore.
He met both athletes while they were students at Ewarton Primary School in St. Catherine.
Minzie has been teaching Physical Education at the institution for more than 10 years.
His job is not the easiest, considering that the school does not have a proper playing field.
“The little space that we have, we are able to maneuver it in such a way that we can see the talents and then we take it from there,” he told The Beacon. “If the talent is spotted, most times we train off [the school] compound.”
Minzie said he saw Taylor and Moore run on separate occasions and, from those moments, he could tell they were destined for greatness.
“From day one, I saw that Taylor was an exceptional talent, and that he has the propensity to go all the way. To see it unfolding now is a good feeling,” he commented. “There is also a young lady, Ashanti Moore, that I would have said the same thing about that she would go all the way.”
Minzie ensured that Taylor and Moore participated in track events on sports day at Ewarton Primary. He also brought them to the primary school championship in Kingston where they both did exceptionally well.
Moore, for example, won both the 100 and 200 metre finals at the championship.
After leaving Ewarton Primary, Moore went to Hydel High School. Taylor, who was placed at McGrath High by the education ministry, ended up attending Calabar instead.
Both athletes went on to win gold medals representing their respective high schools at Champs.
Taylor, now 21, has won several gold medals representing Jamaica regionally and internationally.
He qualified for his first Olympic Games and made the final of the 400 metres in Tokyo, becoming the first Jamaican man to secure that feat in 17 years. In the final, which included some of the world’s best sprinters, Taylor today ran a personal best of 44.79 seconds to finish sixth.
“I feel proud to know that Taylor came out of that event injury-free as well as with a personal best,” Minzie said.
“He ran really well and to be sixth in your first Olympics, what more can we ask for. I’m super proud.”
Minzie opined that Taylor would also do exceptionally well in the shorter sprints.
He told The Beacon that he feels a strong sense of pride seeing the excellence being exhibited by athletes he groomed when they perhaps didn’t even realize their own potential.
“As an educator, it is always a good feeling to know that you can lend your skill to unearthing the talents that are out there,” Minzie further said.
In the meantime, Taylor’s mother, Pauline Knight, also known as ‘Miss Bev’, spoke highly of her son’s former teacher and first coach.
She said Minzie did not only discover Taylor’s athletic skills.
He also took on the task of convincing Taylor’s parents that their son could one day become a legend on the track.
The mother recalled: “Mr Minzie called me one day and seh, ‘Yuh know Christopher can run’? I said to him, ‘After mi never si Christopher run; him only run up an down’… Mr Minzie said running inna Christopher and him a goh mek him start run. From there, Christopher started going primary champs.”
Minzie, who also coaches girls at St. Jago High School these days, encourages young athletes to work hard and respect their coaches.
“The coach doesn’t really know everything at all times, but the coach will tell you things that are going to assist you in going forward if you decide to do track and field. Listen to your coaches, train hard, and the sky is the limit,” he advised.
Minzie was born in Kingston, but he relocated to St. Catherine at a tender age.
He attended Orangefield Primary School and McGrath High in the Linstead area, and is a graduate of GC Foster College and the University of the West Indies.
By Horace Mills, Journalist
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