After several seasons plagued by injuries and body weight issues, Alonso Edward has showed this summer that he is back in his best shape and the Panamanian sprinter is aiming for more success at the IAAF Continental Cup in Marrakech, Morocco, this coming weekend.
The 2009 world silver medallist showed he is again a top contender in 200m after winning the Diamond Race in Zurich from training partner and defending champion Nickel Ashmeade.
“It is a great feeling to win the Diamond Race," he said. "I always believed in my abilities. In 2014, things have gone as I expected them. It gives me a good sign for the upcoming years."
The 24-year-old Panamanian has run seven of his 10 fastest 200m times in 2014, including 19.84 when winning the IAAF Diamond League event in Lausanne. He was just 0.03 shy of his personal best he clocked when finishing second as a teenager behind Usain Bolt in Berlin five years ago, breaking Bolt's world age-19 best.
Edward ended his IAAF Diamond League campaign – which included wins in Rome and Glasgow as well as the two Swiss stops in the series – on a high note in Zurich with 19.95, his third run faster than 20 seconds this summer.
“I have struggled in the last few years with my body weight and injuries," he said. "My recent performances are a result of hard work and sacrifices.”
After his breakthrough 2009 season, Edward contracted food poisoning during a trip to Europe in 2010. He was hospitalised in Europe and then Panama and lost a lot of weight.
He has also nursed injuries that limited his progress. He made it to the 2011 IAAF World Championships 200m final but pulled his left hamstring and could not finish.
Things are different now.
“In 2009, I was running fast and did not take things that seriously, but then I became pro. I have been taking things more calmly. I have been able to train injury-free. I know my potential and I have a lot of confidence in myself.
“I started this year without specific goals, just to go out there and run fast," he added. "My goals are set for the next three years with the World Champs and the Olympics. I want gold. I know it will be hard, but I will give it everything."
Thanks to his stellar 2014 campaign, he was selected to represent the Americas team at the IAAF Continental Cup.
“It is an honour to represent Panama, all Latin Americas and the Americas as a whole at the cup,” said Edward, who will become the third Panamanian to make an appearance at the global event after Hector Daley (1981 and 1985) and Irving Saladino (2006) competed in the Continental Cup’s predecessor, the IAAF World Cup.
He will try to emulate his friend Saladino, who won the long jump in Athens.
Edward has already tested the Grand Stade track in Marrakech at the IAAF World Challenge meeting in June, when he ran 10.19 in 100m. Earlier in April, he had set a Panamanian 100m record with 10.02.
He trains in Orlando, Florida, with a group of 18 athletes led by coach Lance Brummell. “I have been training with them since late 2012. We push ourselves to be the best we can be, to be competitive. Training with such a world-class group makes me more competitive.”
The 2014 season is not over after Marrakech for Edward.
He wants to fly the Panamanian flag high again at Central American and Caribbean Games which will be held in Veracruz, Mexico, between 14-30 November (the athletics will be held 23-30 November).
After the former world and Olympic long jump champion Saladino announced his retirement earlier this summer, Edward is posed to take his place and be the focal point for Panamanian athletics on the world stage.
“Irving is a great athlete and friend," he said. "We support each other. It is pity he is retired. I work hard to represent my country and any athlete who works hard will be able to make our country proud as well.”
Javier Clavelo Robinson (Americas team media officer) for the IAAF