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From their New York homes, both Pompey and Braithwaite told Chronicle Sports that though they were confident of getting the awards, they felt “relieved, grateful and inspired to learn that the nod eventually went my way”.
Immediately after learning of their respective honours through several sources including phone calls from Guyana, both Pompey and Braithwaite first reached out to “give prayers of thanks to God and all those who helped in whatever way during 2002”.
When contacted at her home, Pompey was overjoyed, but calm as she conversed with relatives who agreed with her reaction that “God was responsible … so give him the praise”.
Her calmness was even more unusual for she had, a few hours earlier, defeated celebrated American 800m record holder Jearl Miles-Clark in the New Balance Games 500m indoor event at New York’s Armory track.
It was an “early signal” by Pompey who may be seeing more of the American in 400m events later in the season and possibly at the Pan-Am Games and World Championships. Miles-Clark is among the top-three U.S. 400-m runners, and was aiming to use last Saturday event to “do damage” to the records of the infrequently-run event.
Miles-Clark’s strategy suffered as she committed her drive directly from the ‘gun’, and began to falter from the 350m mark, only to see the Guyanese effortlessly go past her for a 1:10.06.
Pompey’s time was more than a second faster that the American’s. Additionally, she was able to pull 4th placed Natasha Hastings of A.P. Randolph to a high school national record of 1:11.84.
Pompey who is also the NCAA indoor 500m record holder (1:09.34) had not contested the 500m event in three years and was away from the indoor track in 2002. She said she is working on ensuring her dream start to the track season “evolves into greater things this year”.
In an early morning conversation, Braithwaite while smarting from the previous day’s rigours of sparring sessions said he is so moved by his selection that he can only return “this high regard I got by continuing to make all Guyana proud through my efforts”.
Braithwaite’s mom, Claire, who is his manager also revealed her elation through some very pronounced comments saying “Wayne, or Truck as you guys know him, has worked very hard for this and I am equally grateful for this recognition this time around.”
“The last time he came close and I knew he got more inspiration from then,” she added referring to Braithwaite’s 2001 Runner-up Sportsman Award.
She was however quick to point out that, “he hasn’t adopted any airs, you know … just further inspiration and determination” when referring to his recent demeanour following the selection.
“Wayne hasn’t missed one single heartbeat of his training and other commitments over the last few days.”
The World Boxing Council cruiserweight champion is in training for a February 21 bout in Florida, and has been churning out hours of diligent work in the gym
Hearing about all the recent accomplishments by his colleague awardee, Braithwaite said he is anxious to meet Pompey.
“We both live in New York, though it might be hours and miles away, but we got to meet sometime soon to personally congratulate each other”.
“The year was great for the New York Guyanese sports people, eh?” he provoked.
Meanwhile, Pompey was expected in Guyana yesterday for a few days to attend to some formal engagements.
Both national sports awardees are looking forward to having an early opportunity to see the other compete as each ‘enters the ring’ or ‘takes to the track’ over the ensuing weeks.