Meet Guyana’s Junior Sportsman of the Year Award will make Justin Jairam aspire to do better By Isaiah Chappelle
Guyana Chronicle
January 26, 2002

“IT WAS one of my goals and it will make me aspire to do better, to be a better and rounded sportsman,” the just crowned 2001 Junior Sportsman of the Year Justin Allastair Jairam declared.

A teenager who thrives in fighting competitively for medals, Justin is passionately against abortion.

The young karateka and swimmer who wants to be a gynaecologist, won the coveted title perhaps a year late; he should have received national honour since the previous year, were it not for the mysterious disappearance of his nomination.

“It means a lot and I’m very proud of myself. I worked hard and I deserve it,” Justin said. He added: “I felt amazed, surprised and at the same time exasperated because I thought my brother having more credentials than I have, would have won.”

Justin grabbed gold medals at two staging of the region’s highest karate forum - the Pan-American championships staged by the International Shotokan Karate Federation (ISKF)/Japan Karate Association (JKA).

On both occasions, he triumphed in kumite - the fighting aspect of the sport. But he also won medals in kata - executing a set sequence of attack and defence moves.

“It’s not just that I have a liking for kumite, it’s just that I’m better at it. Kumite has to do with fast thinking and I think I have that. And sometimes, it’s just easier to relax and wait for your opponent to attack and counter or just attack, going in with full force, of course not hitting because it is non-contact,” Justin said.

In 1999, he made his first outing to the prestigious biennial championships, staged that year in Barbados, bringing home a bronze in Kata, along with his gold in the 9-11 division.

Then last year in the 9th championships in Philadelphia, USA, Justin again struck gold and improved his kata standing with silver.

Ten years ago, four-year-old Justin stepped into the Thomas Lands YMCA karate dojo.

“My uncle told my father that I should go into karate to make me disciplined, rounded and I’ll have defence wherever I go,” Justin related.

Justin excelled, capturing his first National title at age six in the 6-11 division in 1994. He reached the coveted black belt grade at age ten in 1998. After the mandatory one year, he took the 2nd Dan examinations and passed. He now has to wait until he is 16 years old to go for the 3rd Dan.

“Karate teaches you discipline, self-control and at the same time, mental control, and not use your physical ability without a purpose and not go bragging about the place that I can beat you because I do karate. You should be humble and respectful,” Justin declared.

And how far in karate is Justin aiming? Said he: “I’d like to go to the Shotokan Cup Games staged every four years in Japan; the best go there and I think I can do it.”

At the same age, Justin entered the swimming pool and last year he competed in the Goodwill meet, comprising Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago and Suriname, grabbing one bronze medal each in the 50 m freestyle and 100m relay.

“My father just likes swimming and water sports; everybody in the family swims,” Justin explained.

Justin was just four years old when he captured his first National title in 1992, entering in the Under-7 division. He was national champion on and off in his division, his last being last year in the 13-14 division.

Asked to say which sport he liked better, Justin replied: “Can’t say. The competition is too tough.”

Having won the coveted national award, Justin is resolved: “I will just keep doing my best to get better and to be the best I can be, and to be myself.”

Justin starts his day training in the pool for one hour from 06:00 hrs Monday to Friday, and ends with a two-hour karate session from 17:00 hrs, Tuesday to Friday.

On Monday and Thursday, Justin is at piano lessons from 07:30-08:00 hrs. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, he takes violin lessons from 15:00-16:00hrs, and on Thursday, he plays the guitar from 17:00-18:00 hrs. He reads music for all the instruments.

The young sportsman rises at 04:00 hrs on weekdays. Although his weekends are less packed, Justin is up at about 05:30 hrs because he cannot sleep past 07:00 hrs.

A member of the Marigold Choir at the Brickdam Cathedral, he attends practice on mid-morning Saturday and Sunday.

When Justin finds the time, he plays table tennis and goes on the squash court to fill his time in the August holidays. He also loves reading and debating.

A third form student of Queen’s College, Justin wants to pursue studies in human biology, to later become a gynaecologist.

“Bringing forth a new life into the world is just miraculous and I just want to help it,” Justin said. He adds with conviction: “I shall fight against abortion because it is just like killing.”