Nineteen-year-old long distance sensation Nathaniel Giddings knows that he is heavily favoured to win the 10km road race at the Guyana Teacher Union (GTU) National Schools Athletics Cycling and winning Championship this morning.
Although Giddings is confident of his chances, he has not for one second ruled out the possibility of being upset in this the first event of the 2012 edition of the National Schools athletics championships. Giddings placed third last year and is looking to capture his maiden victory in the event especially since this year will be his final year at the event.
Organisers recently announced that the course for the 10km road will be the same route that was utilized for the South American 10km road race. Giddings, who represents defending champions Upper Demerara District Ten placed fifth overall at the South American 10km classic year and clocked 34 minutes 33 seconds. The Linden Technical Institute student was beaten by regional long distance champion Cleveland Forde and Trinidadians Richard Jones, Curtis Cox and Matthew Hagley but defeated former GTU National 5000m and 10km champion Dennis Horatio.
Speaking with Stabroek Sport exclusively yesterday afternoon, Giddings said that he is very comfortable with the South American 10km route and was looking forward for an exciting race. Even though he favours his chance of winning the event, Giddings said that he will be very watchful for the other competitors that will be looking to steal his glory.
“I will just go out there and do what I come to do but you know you have to look out for everybody out there because every year somebody does come with something under their sleeves,” Giddings said.
Surprisingly Giddings said that he was not worried too much about the hinterland athletes but rather the seasoned long distance athletes such as Devaun Barrington from District 11 who placed second in the junior category at the recently concluded South American 10km. Barrington placed second in last year’s 10km road race at Nationals ahead of Giddings. Seasoned middle distance star Ornesto Thomas will also be competing in today’s 10km road race representing District Four East Coast Demerara.
Apart from the 5000m Giddings will also be competing in the 800m, 1500m and the 5000m at the Nationals. Giddings stated that he is looking to sweep the 800m and 1500m especially since two-time defending champion Trevon George is no longer eligible to compete.
Giddings’ Upper Demerara teammate Shenika Chapman is also one of the top prospects to win the female 10km road race. Chapman placed second to Jevina Straker in the road race last year but is looking to claim her revenge at the event this time around. Straker will be representing District 11 this year and hoping to successfully defend her title.
“Well my expectations this year is to do better than last year because I trained very hard and I am very confident in myself,” Chapman said. Like, Giddings, Chapman competed at the South American 10km last month where she placed third in the junior category which Straker won. Chapman said that since it was her debut at the South American 10km, it was very challenging for her, but now that she is familiar with the course she expects to improve on her performance in today’s race.
Chapman, who is just 16-years-old and attends the Christianburg/Wismar Multilateral Secondary, has been consistently competing at Nationals ever since she was six years old. She will also be competing in the 3000m, 1500m and 800m during the event.