Jeneko Place has 'Superstar' written all over him. The teenager has earned accolades across the globe, running in the 100m and 200m. Just 16, he sometimes has faced more seasoned junior sprinters but, more often than not, has held his own to come away with podium finishes.
Last year, Jeneko was a double silver-medal winner at the Carifta Games and a silver and bronze medalist at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Junior Games held in the Dominican Republic. He also competed at the World Junior Championships in Canada and the first-ever Youth Olympics in Singapore, where he carried the flag for his country and was a 200m finalist. And so, at his young age, Jeneko was named the Bermuda Sun Youth Sports Personality of the Year.
People started to hear the name Jeneko Place when he performed in a publicity stunt of man versus horse at the pony racing track, but now residents and competitors alike know him as one to watch on the track.
Bermuda track and field president Donna Watson has pointed out that, “Jeneko had a stellar year. He has come on the scene over the last two years and has made an impact in the sprints in the Caribbean.”
Watson further said, “Jeneko ran several personal bests [last season], and qualified for several international events, including the first ever World Youth Olympics. Jeneko has already met the standards for the [next] World Youth Championships and the Commonwealth Youth Games. He is ranked in the IAAF Youth Division top 25 for the 200m.”
After winning the Bermuda Sun’s Youth Sports Personality of the Year, Jeneko spoke one-on-one with this writer about his involvement in the sport.
How would you describe your 2010 year?
JP: It was a great year. I did well in track by getting medals when I was competing in meets. I got to go to the Youth Olympics.
DB: What was the highlight of the year for you?
JP: Carifta was the highlight. I did a lot of work and got two medals and the previous year I got fourth. Last year made up for that fourth. I worked really hard so I wouldn’t get beaten like that again. I was hoping to get gold but had to settle for second.
DB: How much pressure do you feel as being tabbed the next great track and field star out of Bermuda?
JP: I really don’t feel any pressure. I know what people say, but it doesn’t bother me.
DB: What do you think your chances are qualifying for the 2012 Olympics?
JP: I hope I can make it. I’m training hard enough to make it.
DB: How hard do you train?
I’m training Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
What made you decide to get interested in track?
When I was younger I used to run for Sports Day. I was 11 or 10.
Does anyone else in your family have track abilities?
Most of my family runs long distances. My uncle used to do the 24th of May, and a lot of 10ks and triathlons. My aunt used to do it as
What was it like competing at the Youth Olympics?
It was fun. There were a lot of activities for us to do while we were there. We got to meet Olympians who broke records. They came to talk to us. They took us to an island and we were grouped with people we didn’t know and had to work together. That made it a lot of fun.
What are your goals for this year?
I want to run at least 20-something in the 200m. Anything in the 20s — 20.9, 20.8, 20.7 — those all would be a good time. In the 100 I would like to run at least a 10.5 or a 1
I also want try to get a medal in the Under-20s in Carifta. It’s going to be harder this year because I moved up an age group.
Jeneko in 2010:
Carifta Games 100m Silver
Carifta Games 200m Silver
CAC Juniors 100m Bronze
CAC Juniors 200m Silver
World Youth Olympics 200m Fifth
He also competed in the World Junior Championships.
Don Burgess is deputy editor of the Bermuda Sun.