IF coach Andrew Henry appeared shocked that his team, TAPS Track Club, created one of the biggest upsets at Saturday's 32nd Milo Western Relays at GC Foster College in winning the Men's 4x200m race in a new meet record, maybe it's because he was.

   MONTEGO BAY, St James — Henry appeared speechless after the foursome of Devon Lewis, Orlando Hines, Alex Graham and Davian Clarke ran one minute 26.07 seconds to win the event beating the better-known teams such as Jamalco who was second, as well as UTech and Speed Unit, one of several Stephen Francis-coached teams at the event.
   Francis' famous MVP Club team did not finish the race, dropping the baton after the first changeover.
   TAPS' (Technique Agilty Power and Speed) success -- seemingly out of the blue -- created a sensation as Henry was beseeched with interview requests with many asking who these runners were.
   The only thing new about TAPS however, is the name, as they have been running under the Western Track Club name for a few years, mostly without any major success.
According to Henry, the decision was made earlier in the pre-season to change the name to give the club a broader scope instead of 'regionalising' it.
   That it would lead to almost instant success was not a part of the plan. Henry insisted they won't allow Saturday's win to cause them to rush anything, as the focus remains on good performances at the National Championships in June.
   "To be truthful, we were not expecting such a big win yet," Henry told the Western Mirror this week. "The programme was not geared to win at Western Relays or even at Gibson (at the end of February) but focused more on the later events such as National Trials come June, but the athletes have been working hard and putting in the work and got the just rewards."
   The runners, he said, just started running in spikes a few days before the Western Relays, after working out in sneakers for a few months. This, he said, augurs well for what is to come later in the season.
   TAPS' win was the first for any western club at a national meet in many years and Henry said this could be the start of good things to come.
   "Comets had set the pace for all of us here in the west, but after the formation of bigger, more well-funded clubs such as MVP, Racers TC and GC Foster Club, the attention was taken away from these smaller clubs and athletes migrated, drawn to their success and star power."
   The 31-year-old Henry who competed from the all-age level through the high school at Anchovy High and club level with personal bests of 10.7 seconds in the 100m and 21.00 seconds in the 200m, is confident that western Jamaica can and will produce adult athletes of world-class standards, if given the support.
   "At TAPS we have athletes in the 100m/200m such as Clarke, Graham and Hinds, and in the 400m we have Devon Lewis and Maurice Wallace as well as Shagury Smith", Henry noted, adding that they also have younger athletes at the primary and junior high level as well.
   One of the things that made the win last weekend so special, Henry said, was the struggles they had to undergo to even get to the meet. Three of the runners drove in the morning of the meet with Dr Garfield Campbell, while himself and two others took a minibus into Spanish Town.
   They only got uniform tops the Friday evening, thanks to the Montego Bay Yacht Club, he said. He also thanked Lloyds of Montego Bay whom he said had always been there for them; Mighty Moves gym at Aguo Sol who has allowed the athletes to train there, as well as Dr Campbell.
   Like many of the small clubs, Henry said, they continue to struggle on a daily basis to get nutrition and supplements for the athletes.
"The hardest thing about this is to find the funding, but we just go on daily, out of love for the sport," he said.
   Henry, who is currently teaching at Spot Valley High after stints at Unity Prep, Montego Bay High and Mt Alvernia High where he discovered and developed a number of athletes, many of whom have taken up scholarships overseas and have represented Jamaica at the junior level, said TAPS is "still a work in progress".
   An additional hurdle, he said is that they have to use the Cornwall College facility to train in the afternoons, but once it gets dark they have to leave quickly as they have had frequent encounters with robbers there.
   "It is not safe late in the evenings. We have to cut short or try to start early even though it might not be convenient to most of the athletes who work."
  One workable solution, he said, would be their being allowed to train at the complex at Catherine Hall.
   In the meanwhile, they are working on opening more eyes with more good
runs and hopefully soon will reap more benefits.

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