Vincentian national track star Brandon Valentine-Parris continues his winning ways in track meets in the United States, tracking up victories in the past two weeks in events in North Carolina and Georgia.
In the UCS Invitational in Winston Salem, N.C. two Saturdays ago, Valentine-Parris, running for Claflin University in Orangeburg, S. C., broke the St. Vincent and the Grenadines national record for the 200 meters by clocking 21.36 sec. in a race that involved five other athletes.
The previous record was set by Valentine-Parris himself in late January when he ran the 200 meters in 21.48 sec. for the Claflin Panthers, his university’s athletic team, at the Emory Crossplex Invitational in Birmingham, Ala. In that event, Valentine-Parris simultaneously broke the Emory Crossplex Invitational record.
Valentine-Parris, 20, was again in winner’s row last Saturday at the Savannah State Tiger Relays in Savannah, Ga. The Claflin Panthers relay team, of which Valentine Parris is an integral member, won the 4x800m relay in 8 min. 20 sec. Other members of the team were Odou Hazel, Christopher Hudson and Sixto Ramos.
Though triumphant in the last event, Valentine-Parris said it was “more so of training, just to keep fit. Because of the cold weather [in South Carolina], I couldn’t train properly.”
Valentine-Parris is expected this Friday and Saturday to compete in the 200 and 400m in the U.S. National Indoor Championship in Kansas City, Kansas. He said he is the only male athlete from Claflin University to qualify for the two-day track meet.
“According to my performances in past meets, I’m on par to winning the championship,” Valentine-Parris told Caribbean Life in an exclusive interview Sunday night. “I thank God I’m still healthy, and I’m going to go out there to win the championship.
“Hopefully, I’ll be fast enough to qualify for the World Indoor Championship to take place in Portland, Ore. on Mar. 17,” he added.
Valentine-Parris, who is currently ranked 6th in the United States in the 200 and 400m, was among the first athletes to represent the Thomas Saunders Secondary School (TSSS) in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in its initial bid in the prestigious Penn Relays at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in 2011. He also represented TSSS at the Penn Relays a year later.
The nation’s participation in the Penn Relays is coordinated by James Cordice, a former president of the Philadelphia-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organization of Pennsylvania (SVGOP).
Valentine-Parris, who is on an athletic scholarship at Claflin University, majoring in Sports Management and Business Administration, was St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ National Under 14 and Under 15 Male Champ.
Among other events, he has competed in, over the years, are: The World Youth Champs, (France 2011); World Junior Champs (Barcelona, 2012); World Junior Champs (Eugene, Oregon, 2014); Commonwealth Games (Glasgow, Scotland, 2014); and NACAC Senior Champs (Costa Rica, 2015).
Valentine-Parris said it was at the World Junior Championships in Eugene, Oregon, where he placed 6th in the preliminaries, that the Claflin University coach approached him, offering a track and field scholarship.
In January last year, Valentine-Parris said he competed in the Eastern Tennessee Invitational Meet, winning his 400m-heat in 47.75 sec. and becoming the fastest qualifier for the finals; he won the finals in 48.34 sec. In the 200 m, he won his heat in 21.4 sec., but did not compete in the finals, because his coach wanted him to save his energies for the 400m.
As a junior athlete in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Valentine-Parris said he initially competed in the 800 and 1,000m, because “basically those are all I could have done at that time.”
He, however, said he switched to sprinting in 2012, when he competed in the 400m in El Salvador at the Central American and Caribbean Junior championship. He also ran the 800m at that meet, but was more successful in the 400m, winning his heat in 48.68 sec. In the 400m finals, he placed 6th “because of sickness and injuries.”
Locally, Valentine-Parris said he is a senior member of the I.T. - D.A.T. Track Club, owned and coached by regionally-renowned athletic coach Michael “Lord Have Mercy” Ollivierre.
His mother is Vincentian Lesanne Valentine, who he considers to be his greatest fan; his dad is Barbadian Franklyn Parris. On completion of his university studies, Valentine-Parris aspires to become an athletics director.