Twelve-year-old Mikael Serrette raised eyebrows last Sunday with a stunning ninth-place finish at the annual Eastern Credit Union 5K at La Joya Complex, St Joseph.
Competing against over 500 other runners, including some of the best in the country, the Arima Central Secondary form one student had his best ever race, to not only win his age group but place top ten overall.
The Carapo runner clocked 19 minutes and five seconds – a new personal best.
In an interview with Newsday Kids, after training with Phoenix Athletics Club at the Eddie Hart Savannah, Tacarigua, Mikael was beaming with pride about his performance, and his prizes.
"I got a big trophy, a medal, a big hamper and money," he said.
Despite his age, Mikael is no stranger to competitive races, but this was his best haul yet.
He said he started running at age seven with his father Brendon Serrette, a teacher, who was not a competitive athlete but was an active runner.
The lessons seem to have paid off as the student soon surpassed the teacher.
Mikael said, "During covid time he started to get a little slower, that is when I realised I started to beat him in races around Sangre Grande. And then in big races, I saw I was capable of beating him. That was astonishing for me."
Although he has become the superior runner, Mikael said he does not rub it in.
"No, he's meh father and he carried me so far, so I don't wanna really deal with that, yet."
With scores of races already under his belt, including competing in boys under-17 division at development meets hosted by the National Association for Athletics Administration, Mikael has no fear of running against much older competitors.
"I realised, with the big boys, they're not so fast. You just have to run your pace, run your best. You don't have to compete with them, because you know you'll get them next time. You just have to train to get there."
Apart from training three times a week under coach Kenrick Williams at Phoenix Athletics, Mikael enjoys playing football as well. He said balancing school with training was not difficult.
"You have to have a plan, if you have a goal. You have to take it step by step, but you have to know life doesn't go as planned. So you have to adapt for certain situations."
Asked about his goal, Mikael said he just wants to get faster in the 800m and 1,500m events – his preferred races.
Who does he look up to for inspiration as a runner?
"My father, when he was younger," he said before bursting into laughter.