Texas Coach Eldrick Floreal believes Kevona Davis is ready to contend at Jamaica's National Championships

By June 16, 2023
Kevona Davis Kevona Davis

University of Texas at Austin Coach Eldrick Floreal is confident that sprinter Kevona Davis will be a strong contender at Jamaica's national championships next month. Despite facing criticism and doubts from fans, Coach Floreal believes in Davis's progress and her ability to overcome past challenges.

Davis, who ran wind-aided times of 10.98 and 22.02 at the recently concluded NCAA Division 1 National Outdoor Championships in Austin, Texas, is expected to vie for a spot on Jamaica’s team to the World Athletics Championships in Budapest in August and Coach Floreal believes that after prior failures the former Edwin Allen High School star will be ready to compete this year.

 I think Kevona is going to be ready. The goal this year is to go to the Jamaican championship and compete. She has not competed (previously). She's showed up and participated. She's going to compete,” Floreal said of his athlete who boasts personal bests of 10.95 and 22.23, in the 100m and 200m, respectively.

“She's going to actually run what she's running now in the (NCAA) championships, and its maturity.”

Coach Floreal acknowledged the skepticism surrounding Davis's development but dismissed it considering the clear steps forward she has been taking. He addressed concerns by highlighting the unique approach they have taken to accelerate her progress, acknowledging that it didn't always go as planned.

"I've taken quite a bit of flak from Jamaica, and in true Jamaican fashion, I said, 'Me no care. I don't care.' My job is to help this young woman," Coach Floreal explained, emphasizing his commitment to supporting Davis.

The coach recognized that Davis had struggled with confidence issues and made mistakes in previous competitions. However, he emphasized that these were normal errors and not indicative of a lack of talent. Coach Floreal attributed them to a lack of self-belief and the pressure of competition.

"One of the most difficult things is to identify a step process that goes backward. Most people coach forward. I coach backwards," Coach Floreal explained his coaching philosophy. He shared that he envisions Davis reaching her full potential and then works backward to determine the necessary steps. This method, although unconventional, aims to ensure a solid foundation for sustained growth.

Davis's lack of confidence and occasional mistakes in competitions are areas Coach Floreal has been focused on. He believes that her experiences in the NCAA and Jamaica have impacted her mental state, and his role as a coach is to rebuild her belief in herself.

Reflecting on Davis's progression, Coach Floreal highlighted the ups and downs she has faced throughout her career. He mentioned specific instances where her confidence took a hit, such as false starts and disappointment in previous races. Despite these setbacks, he emphasized that Davis has shown resilience and an ability to bounce back, slowly improving over time.

The coach shared some behind-the-scenes efforts to nurture Davis's mental strength, such as dedicating additional training sessions and reassurance to rebuild her confidence. He stressed the importance of taking the necessary time to help athletes mature, comparing it to shifting gears in a car, where skipping steps can lead to stalling.

“No matter how bad Kevona's had a rough road, she's always come back. She's always comes back every year, done a little bit better, a little bit better, a little bit better,” he said emphasizing that Davis is making the steps necessary to be the best she can be.

“If you have ever driven a car, a stick shift. If you go from the first gear to the third gear, everybody knows what happens. The car starts and cuts off. You have to go to the second gear. You have to match up the second gear and then shift to the third gear. And sometimes these gears take time because they have been unable to comprehend what the coach wants.

“But she has to develop. Everybody wants 10.7 now. You're not getting that right now because there's a lot of things I need to fix before I even get there.  If you're a really qualified coach, you understand that you're going to have to take time and sometimes go backwards to come back forward. It's not like instant oatmeal, some of this stuff takes time.”

Coach Floreal expressed his satisfaction with Davis's progress and is optimistic about her readiness for the upcoming Jamaican national championships.

In conclusion, Coach Floreal acknowledged that talent alone is not enough to succeed in the highly competitive world of athletics. He emphasized the importance of mental fortitude and the ability to handle the pressures of the sport independently. With Davis's continuous growth and unwavering determination, Coach Floreal believes she has what it takes to make her mark at the national championships and beyond.

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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