TTO to Tokyo: Kion Benjamin ‘controls the excitement’ as Olympic debut draws closer

Sprinter Kion Benjamin will make his Olympic debut at the Tokyo 2020 Games as part of the TT men's 4 x100m relay team. - via Kion Benjamin
Sprinter Kion Benjamin will make his Olympic debut at the Tokyo 2020 Games as part of the TT men's 4 x100m relay team. - via Kion Benjamin

NAME: Kion Benjamin

Age: 20

FORMER SCHOOL/CURRENT SCHOOL: Fatima College/University of Minnesota

SPORT: Track and Field

EVENT: Men’s 4x100-metre relay

OLYMPIC EXPERIENCE: Debut

KEY ACHIEVEMENTS: Participant at 2018 IAAF World Under-20 Championships, Set University of Minnesota school records in 100m and 200m events in 2021, men’s 100m bronze at the 2021 NACAC Under-18, Under-20, Under-23 Championships

KION Benjamin is anticipating the 2020 Tokyo Games, but the sprinter is staying cool and collected as he does not want to be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the meet.

Benjamin, 20, has been selected on the TT men’s 4x100m team for the upcoming games.

The former Fatima College student is not the letting the moment get the better of him.

“Me personally, I try not to allow excitement and nerves to take over,” Benjamin said. “Yes, I am excited because of the big stage, but I like to control the excitement and stay composed.”

The University of Minnesota student recently completed a stellar season where he broke two of the school’s outdoor records. He ran 10.25 seconds in the 100m and 20.62 in the 200m.

Before his college career in the US, Benjamin was selected on the TT team for the 2018 IAAF World Under-20 Championships.

Benjamin said he built chemistry with his TT men’s 4x100m team-mates in recent weeks.

“I actually had the opportunity to run with the senior and the professional guys over the past month and they are very friendly and it is a very fun team.”

Benjamin said the young TT relay team can spring a surprise in Tokyo. “As always there will always be a new batch of athletes coming year by year. I believe we have a good chance going in as we also have Richard Thompson on the team with us, along with some other older guys, who have experience to help lead the charge as we are the new young ones coming in…it is going to be a nice learning experience for all the young athletes out there.”

All the members of the relay team will make their Olympic debut, except for Thompson who will compete at his fourth Olympic Games.

Benjamin said Thompson is not only a leader, but is willing to listen to the ideas of the emerging athletes.

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“He (Thompson) is very good mentor, but he is not just out there to tell us what to do and tell us what to expect. He is very open and he says all athletes have their own experiences that can feed other athletes. He allows us to give our opinion in where we think we could improve and do the best for the team.”

Benjamin has been showing form of late earning a bronze medal at the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Under-18, Under-20 and Under-23 Championship in Costa Rica, earlier this month.

In the men’s 100m semifinals, Benjamin won heat one in 10.53 and later grabbed third position in the final in 10.40. Barbadian Kuron Griffith won gold in 10.33 and Jamaican Odaine McPherson took silver in 10.39.

Benjamin said the covid19 pandemic did affect his track and field career over the past year and a half, but is putting that behind him and focusing on what is ahead of him.

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