Competitive runners must keep their focus on the track or road ahead as they move toward their goal. For Genesis Joseph, Upper Six student of St Francis Boys’ College, Belmont, opportunities lie ahead; he earned an athletic scholarship to the US University of Arkansas, at Pine Bluff and has his eyes on competing in the 2024 Olympics.
Pre-Covid in 2019, he won the boys Over-17, 800 metre in the National Secondary Schools Track and Field Championships hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago Secondary Schools’ Track and Field Association (TTSSTFA), repeating his 2018 success. He also won the 1500 metre and 5,000 metre races. Joseph is listed among the 2019 Men National Champions on the National Association of Athletic Administrations of Trinidad and Tobago website for the 5000 metre, along with other athletes Keston Bledman 100 metre, Jereem Richards 200 metre and others. He qualified for the 800 metre and 1500 metre in the 2020 CARIFTA Games scheduled for Bermuda. It was rescheduled to August this year, but eventually cancelled.
“I always liked sports and I like to be active,” Joseph said in an interview. It was football which first caught his attention but he also had an interest in Track and Field. Seeing his friends in athletics and their influence encouraged him to “give it a try and see how it goes”.
He has participated in road races including The University of the West Indies’ half marathon for three years. In 2018 and 2019 he won the TTSSTFA annual 5K Classic road race. While Joseph competes in the 800, 1500 and 5000 metre races, his “main focus” is the middle distance. It is in the 800 metre that he has seen the most improvement over the years.
A member of the Health Olympians Athletic Club, Joseph follows a race plan from his coach Albert King. “At the moment, it is like experiments, to see which one actually suits me better.” His training regime lasts one hour 30 minutes Monday through Friday, “sometimes” training is Monday to Thursday. “My training session is according to what distance I am doing,” Joseph said. During the off-season he may run longer distances.
As he moves forward from the starting line and his muscles begin to work and heart beats faster, Joseph said he feels great running. He adds though, that how he feels about the race depends on the day: “some days I feel better.”
He is not daunted by the results of the race. “[The] majority of times, I know where I place, the only thing I would not know the time, I don’t get anxiety after I run, it’s mostly before I race and from the time I start, it’s good”.
Joseph’s personal best for the 800 metre was 1.55 minutes last year and 4.05 minutes for the 1500 metre in March this year. He has not run a 5000 metre since 2019, his best time for the distance is 16.08. The 2019 CARIFTA Games and the NCAC (North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association) Championships have been good experiences and Joseph believes he can improve as he continues to compete. Sprints attract more attention, with the 100-metre used to determine the ‘fastest’ man. However, the 20-year-old said, “it is not that I don’t like sprints and such, it is just my capabilities that is why I chose the longer distances.”
The Covid pandemic and lockdown prevented him from training. That was a “big change” and he tried to maintain fitness with home workouts. He had hopes of getting into the T&T Olympic team,
but in the absence of a running routine Joseph said, “it just felt like I was not improving as much as I could have.” He later explained, “I ran at Olympic trials this year for 400 metre but unfortunately with the lack of training during quarantine, I wasn’t ready and placed fifth with a time of 52.17. My season best for 800 metre this year is 1.56, and that was also my first 800 metre for the year.”
Coach King has spoken to him about the “push” required for the next three years to 2024. “I hope to be on that next Olympics team so I am going to be working hard and working as much as I could to be successful.” He aims to be successful training and racing. Joseph also hopes to make his family proud as he pursues higher education in the United States.
Principal of St Francis Boys’ College Lucia Reyes said she was ecstatic hearing Joseph got a scholarship. “This young man wasn’t born with a golden spoon in his mouth; He has lived with his grandmother since he came into St Francis in Form One. He had his run-ins with discipline early on but once he got into Track, that was it, he took off literally and figuratively!” Reyes described Joseph as polite, well-mannered, committed and disciplined. She added that his grandmother has passed on a strong faith to him. “In talking to him after his recently completed exams, I was amazed by how mature he is and ready for this next step. He takes counsel well and listens to those who has been around him the last few years. From the depths of my heart, I wish Genesis the greatest success that he can achieve and that he remains walking in the path that God has set out for him.”