In Romell Glave, Croydon Harriers look to have another high-class speedster coming off their sprinter production line.
The south London club which has helped unearth international talents including Donna Fraser, Martyn Rooney and James Dasaolu, now boasts among its members a teenager living in South Norwood who one specialist magazine recently tipped as “the next Usain Bolt”.
And Bolt is definitely Glave’s inspiration. “I always wanted to be an athlete from 2008 when I saw Usain,” Glave said in a recent interview. “He’s my biggest running inspiration.”
In 2017, Glave was officially the world’s fastest 17-year-old sprinter, on account of his 100 metres best of 10.21sec. As a result, he’s already landed himself a sponsorship deal with a major international sportswear firm: Puma, the suppliers of racing spikes – and a few million dollars’ worth of kit and cash – to the nine-time Olympic gold medal-winner Usain Bolt.Glave’s stellar 2017 season began in relatively modest surroundings, at the Surrey County Championships in May, staged at Kingsmeadow, where he won the under-20 titles at 100 and 200m, in the latter event setting a championship best of 21.34. By the end of the year, with a 20.95 lifetime best for the furlong to go with his world-beating 100m mark, he ended up topping the national rankings at both distances, ahead of the best of British, some of them two years his senior.
Glave moved to Croydon from Jamaica in 2015, though he was already in the fast lane.
“I started when I was small in Jamaica. I saw my family run – my dad and my mum used to run, and my sister – so I continued the tradition,” he said recently.
He signed up to join his local club at Croydon Arena two years ago this month, where was introduced to coach Paul Weston.
Initially, the teen’s times were not earth-shattering. But by the end of the 2016 summer track season, he had improved by almost 1sec over 100m, as he won under-17s gold at 200m at his first English Schools’ Championships, and took both sprints in the South of England Championships.
By last summer, he was national champion at both sprints, and in 2018 he’s back on the racing track already, having clocked 6.79sec for a 60-metre pipe-opener in an indoor meeting last Saturday. Now, his target is this summer’s World Junior Championships, in Tampere, Finland.
The training load for Glave so far has been restrained – two track sessions a week, and one on the weights in the gym.
At college studying for a BTEC in sports, Glave says that his schoolwork helps him to understand the demands he is placing on his body. “It’s about fitness, the human body and psychology. It helps me know how the body works and how the muscles function.”
But there’s no claim, from athlete or coach, that the rapid progress made by Glave is just down to his undoubted natural talent. “From the start he always turned up on those wet, windy nights and trained hard,” Weston told Athletics Weekly.
“I see him as someone with great potential.”
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