“I’m not talking about the lightning bolt, I’m referring to this one, you know, Seabiscuit,” said Pablo McNeil, former William Knibb High School coach.
Champion sprinter Lerone ‘Seabiscuit’ Clarke can now add the Commonwealth Games to his growing list of accomplishments.
Seabiscuit was born undersized and grew to become a champion thoroughbred horse during the Great Depression and a symbol of hope for many Americans.
“Clarke’s determination and anatomical structure made me name him Seabiscuit,” McNeil said with a chuckle.
McNeil, who once sprinted for Jamaica, also coached Usain Bolt when the star sprinter attended William Knibb High.
“What Lerone has done supersedes my humility,” McNeil said, his voice cracking with admiration. “I am very happy for him.”
Ephrain Clarke, father of Lerone, said he sent up quite a few prayers on his son’s behalf.
“I pray last night (Wednesday). I said another one this morning and another one five minutes before the race.
“Then I heard the news on the radio and tears just come from my eyes.”
Ephrain said he felt a great deal of pride, considering Lerone’s track and field struggles.
“I was saying to (Lerone) that he better put down track and field and go get a good job.
“But he said, ‘No, that me love Daddy, that me love’. That man teach me something.”
The lesson learned was perseverance, which Lerone’s current coach, Vincent Thomas, said the athlete has much of.
“It has been hard to survive in this field. When you don’t have the contract, it’s very difficult to make it. Up to 2009, he was working at Coles Department Store,” said Thomas, who coaches at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.
“He was coming to practice when he could, but it was tough to work six to eight hours,” Thomas added.
Thomas said he has shouted repeatedly at Lerone, telling him to quit track and field if he could not handle it, or to choose track and field and stick to it.
Lerone left his job and dedicated his time to training, spending most of his time at the track by himself.
“He is the Commonwealth champion. He’s the 2010 champion and no one can take that from him. It is the reward for the hard work he has put in.
“A lot of people would have quit already,” Thomas said.