By Scott Mills
Confident, outspoken and extremely positive are all words that spring to mind when describing T54 wheelchair athlete Jabari Knight.
So when the sprint athlete was awarded the Brain Freeman trophy by the Weir Archer Academy for the dedication and hard work he has tirelessly grafted for over the winter season to improve himself, it was very surprising to see Knight speechless.
“Winning this award is a bit of a new thing to me but achieving something like this really showed that my progress and training has gone well during the winter season,” Knight explains.
“For me this is just the start and I want to go on to bigger and better things.
“I am aiming for the World Championships in London this summer as well as trying to work on my technique, how I eat and my recovery because I know if I focus on this I can be the best athlete I can physically be.
“Currently based on the way things are going, I believe things will be alright and I have got big plans to ensure I stay on track to meet my goals.”
In order to make the dreams of competing for his country; Trinidad and Tobago at the World Championships a reality, Knight also knows that there is still a lot to do.
However, the self-proclaimed Manchester United fan has made vast progress over the winter months and has come a long way.
Before winter training, the temptations of partying, girls and having a good time were all too much causing Knight to regularly miss training sessions.
But now it is very unusual for him not to be thundering up hills in Richmond Park at very high-speeds on a regular basis.
Even the infamous Storm Doris with its torrential rain and 70mph winds couldn’t prevent the athlete from sprinting 13 miles around the Park.
Although the hunger and desire to compete at the 2017 London World Championships was a huge part in turning his focus back to racing, Knight believes that it was the nature of his personality that led to this life-changing situation.
“The key thing was listening- listening to what people say,” Knight points out.
“I have always had the belief in myself but I know that I have talked a lot so I thought that it was the perfect time to go show them what I can do.
“I’ve listened to what Jenny [Archer] has said because she has been on my back and I would say I have done 95% of the things she has told me to do.
“I’ve trained when she has told me to train and I feel the key thing about this whole thing is that I now finish every training session that I have had to do.
“Even when I wanted to stop, I knew that I had to just get through it because of that one goal I had set myself and I know if I want to achieve that then I have to go through the pain in order to get that gain.”
When talking about his racing it is very evident just how grateful Knight is to the Weir Archer Academy’s Head Coach, Jenny Archer MBE.
Being innovative and one step ahead of the game in terms of creating training plans for her athletes, the T54 racer believes that Archer’s help, support and advice is one of the many key ingredients in which has seen Knight make so much progress.
“I think what Jen has done for me this winter has worked wonders,” Knight says clearly with clarification.
“The roller sessions are one thing but when you come out onto the road and she has you doing long distances alongside my sprints it really has worked fantastically for me.
“Especially the new push technique she has had me working on because for someone with my size where my arms are so heavy, it gives me time to rest and use my power wisely instead of just pushing myself hard and blowing out within the first few metres.
“So she [Archer] has figured out a way to use my attributes to my strengths and make everything work together and make me a stronger athlete, ultimately improving my mind-set and making me train better.”
For now the World Championships will have to take a back seat as Knight now prepares to compete in the 2017 EDP Lisbon Half-Marathon before an extremely tough warm weather training camp with his team-mates.
Although he is a sprinter, the Trinidadian is still relishing the challenge.
“I can’t wait for warm weather training and the Half-Marathon even if the latter isn’t really my thing.
“It’ll be a good indicator for me to see where I am in terms of my fitness, to push it hard and use it as a warm up for the season, but it is always nice to try to beat some of the guys that claim to be specialists in marathons,” Knight jokes.
“Then the best thing about warm weather training is that brings something new, which is always refreshing.
“When you’ve been training for large parts of the winter on rollers and in Richmond Park it is nice to bring something new to the equation.
“The different scenery creates a different mind-set because it is nice to have a change and it will be interesting to see what happens when I come out at the end of it because I have already said that once I come back from warm weather training, my opponents won’t be ready for what I have got in store for them.”
With the World Championships and the qualification times being the main driving force behind Knights dedication and graft there is still one life-long goal that he will continue to chase beyond 2017 and that is the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.