Kavarly Arnold #
When Kemba Nelson lines up to run in the 100m at the IAAF World Championships this weekend, her proud mother, Sandra Campbell, will be on the streets of Mount Salem, St James, screaming at the top of her voice.
Nelson, 22, booked her ticket to the World Championships after finishing second in the event at the Jamaican National Championships with a personal best 10.88 seconds. She finished behind Shericka Jackson and ahead of Elaine Thompson Herah. Jamaica will have four ladies in the short sprint as Jackson, Thompson Herah and Nelson will be joined by defending champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.
“The entire family and community of Mount Salem is proud of her. To see a little champion from the community is good, so everyone is proud. I’m planning to bring my TV out to a shop across from me so we all could sit and watch it and support Kemba and team Jamaica,” Campbell said.
Nelson lines up in the 100m heats on Saturday and Campbell, like all of Mount Salem, is anticipating her to be among the medallists on Sunday. Anya Peterkin, Nelson’s neighbour, is getting ready to beat the drums in celebration for Nelson, who she expects to secure a podium finish.
“We are more than excited. Right now me a talk to you, my skin full of cold bumps. Pot cover won’t be enough, me a get a big drum,” said Peterkin.
Nelson missed out on the Tokyo Olympics last year, finishing seventh in 11.16. Her mother said that she has put that disappointment behind her, and has been working extremely hard to achieve success on the world stage.
“I am very proud to see her make the team. I knew she would, with all the work that she has been putting in … I think she can sneak in and get on the podium, I believe she can,” Campbell said.
Campbell said Nelson loved running from a tender age and took the sport seriously very early without having to be pushed.
“She won champion girl in her final year at Corinaldi Avenue Primary. From then she was a shy child but loved track and field. She loved to run, everywhere you send her she would run. Even on weekends, if Mr [Andrew] Henry called and say she has Sunday training, she would go, and you know a lot of children would want to stay home on a Sunday,” Campbell said.
Nelson’s grandmother, Verley-Ann Reid-Campbell, affectionately known as Miss Moodie, said she has been praying for the young sprinter.
“I always pray for Kemba to get her heart’s desire. I prayed before the race (trials) because I know she work so hard, in school and on the track. Me start to pray already for her (at World Championships). I ask the Lord to bless her, all of them running need blessings, but there can only be one first [place],” Reid-Campbell said.
The grandmother said that Nelson, who she describes as very quiet, has always made her proud.
“She always made me proud from a little girl at Corinaldi. She is everything you would want in a child. I always hope she grows up the same way and she did just that,” Reid-Campbell said.
For Michael ‘Jah Mikes’ Sunderland, having watched Nelson’s progress, he is not surprised that her stocks have risen so rapidly.
“I always call her ‘champion’ from Mt Alvernia days. I knew for a fact she is going to be big like Shelly [Fraser-Pryce] one day. I am more than elated for her. She has the potential and I have the feeling she is going to be on the podium. We’ll be rooting and shouting,” Sunderland said.