The right lane: Shuntae Hendrickson, 15, has already been to three Carifta Games. *Photo by Ras Mykkal
The right lane: Shuntae Hendrickson, 15, has already been to three Carifta Games. *Photo by Ras Mykkal

WEDNESDAY, MAR. 21: Shuntae Hendrickson isn’t looking to just be a faster runner — she’s seeking to be a smarter runner.

The Platinum Force team member has been training under former national track and field coach Gerry Swan, who is getting her to think about how she runs her races.

She also represented CedarBridge Academy well in the inter-schools track meet last Friday by claiming the titles in both the 1500m and the 3000m.

The three-time Carifta Games veteran is seeking to shine before the home crowds in just over two weeks’ time when the games are hosted here.

She spoke to Don Burgess about running.

How old were you when you first started running?

I’ve been running since I was in preschool in the Telford Electric Mile, but I really didn’t get serious about it until I was in M1.

What made you decide to get serious about it?

I realized I had a talent and my family pushed me to go further with it.

How many times have you gone to Carifta?

Three times. My first Carifta I was 12-years-old in St Kitts and after that I went to St Lucia and Cayman Islands.

What does it mean for you to have Bermuda host the Carifta Games?

It means a lot because it will help expose track and field in Bermuda so people can see how we compete and do well.

Do you think it might motivate more people to get involved in track?

Possibly, I think it would. It could give them something to look forward to.

How did you end up training with coach Gerry Swan?

I saw the athletes he was producing and I admired his coaching and I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to do better and be better and I thought he could help me achieve that.

What’s the best piece of advice he’s given you?

(Laughing) There’s so many, but the best piece is when he tells us that fatigue is only temporary. He’s telling us not to let it take over our mind. He also tells us it’s up to us. He can only take us so far, but the rest is up to us. He always tells us that it’s mostly in the mind so we have to make our minds very strong. When we’re competing we’re not just using our bodies, we’re also using our heads.

How have you been able to use your head during races?

Most races I do and I feel I am running a little smarter than I have been before. There are times when he’s not happy with me with the way I ran and the way I didn’t use my head.

Is there a person you like training with?

Yes, Nico Barclay. I like training with Nico because we encourage each other when we’re running. We never put each other down — we always help each other. If one is struggling, the other gives encouraging words to keep the other going.

Do you have a favourite event like Carifta or the KPMG Front Street Mile?

I like track much better than cross-country or any road race. I really don’t like cross-country because of the distance — it seems very long. I like road races to a certain extent but not as much as track.

What do you feel is the best you’ve ever done, whether that was a victory or a time?

I was really proud when I did my PB in the 1500m, which was 5:02 in the Telford Mile.

What do you hope to achieve with your running ability?

Right now I’m looking to get a scholarship for college, but I want to go as far as I can go with it.

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