Vincentian track star Brandon Valentine-Parris says he’s very proud of setting a new national and Emory Crossplex Invitational record last month.
In an exclusive interview with Caribbean Life on Monday, Valentine-Parris, 20, said he was very delighted to run the 200 meters in 21.48 sec., for Claflin University in Orangeburg, S.C., about 40 miles (64 km) southeast of Columbia, in establishing the record last month in Birmingham, Ala.
“It’s a good accomplishment for any individual to leave home and venture out to school [in the United States] and actually go out there and perform well,” said the Sion Hill native, who 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.
Valentine-Parris 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).
“For me, it’s heart-warming to know that my hard work is paying off,” added Valentine-Parris, whose long trek to athletic stardom began in 2008, when he participated, for the first time, in the national junior championship at the Arnos Vale playing field in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. “I ‘m just happy to know that I’m performing well and injury free.”
Claflin University, a historically Black institution, said its athletic team, Claflin Panthers, had “an overall good meet [at the Emory Crossplex Invitational], as the 4×100 meter relay team, consisting of Nicholas Williams, Valentine-Parris, Daniel Montgomery and You’shi Kirkland, set the meet and school record with a time of 3:16.47.”
Valentine-Parris, St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ National Under 14 Male Champ and the 2008 St. Vincent ant the Grenadines National Under 15 Male Champ, said his primary goal is to become a professional athlete, while excelling academically.
With only his second year at Claflin University and on an athletic scholarship, Valentine-Parris, who is majoring in Sports Management and Business Administration, and wants to become an athletics director, has been on the Dean’s List for the second successive semester.
“My aim is to make St. Vincent and the Grenadines very proud and to put it on the map,” he said, owing his success, to date, to “God, because He’s my pillar of strength,” and also to his mother, Lesanne Valentine, a single parent. Valentine-Parris’ dad is Barbadian Franklyn Parris.
This weekend, Valentine-Parris will compete in the 60 and 200m in the Winston Salem (N.C.) Invitational Championship.
“I look forward to winning the championship and placing higher in the men’s rankings for the 400 meters nationally,” said Valentinee-Parris, who is currently ranked 6th in the United States in the 400 and 200m.
He participated in 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 preliminaries, that the Claflin coach approached him and offered him 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, 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 I participated 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-recognized athletic coach Michael “Lord Have Mercy” Ollivierre.