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Tuzo has junior record in her sights

Photograph by Nicola MuirheadKeep on running: Tuzo showed her potential by posting the best overall girls’ time in the Heritage Junior Classic

Selah Tuzo was one stride away from becoming the new female record holder in the Junior Heritage Classic on Monday.

The 11-year-old Saltus Grammar School student tied the record of 12min 14sec set by Kyrah Scraders in 2009 when she led the girls field from Front Street to Bernard Park.

Tuzo’s time was 32 seconds faster than her winning time last year, and with four more years of eligibility in the annual race, it seems certain that she will one day break Scraders’s record.

Monday’s win was also her third straight victory, first winning in 2013 in an outstanding time of 12:16 as a nine-year-old. The start was closer to the Cabinet office on Front Street but finished further back on Dutton Avenue.

“Miss Tuzo is definitely a future national athlete with great potential, she is the youngest winner and has already tied the number of consecutive wins,” Dennis Lister, of sponsors Lister Insurance Agency, said.

“The race has become an annual part of the May 24 Bermuda Day road race events since 1997. Many of the runners who have participated in the Junior Classic have gone on to run the senior race, with many of them finishing in the high order.

“In fact, this year’s second-place female Ashley Berry is a three-times winner of the junior classic, and fourth-place male Tyler Smith is former winner [last year] of the junior classic.”

The male record has stood since 1999 when Henry Talbot clocked a time of 10:16, while other previous male winners include: Juma Mouchette (2010), Mark Morrison (1998), Tyler Butterfield (2001), Kameron Creighton (2009), David Darrell (2013), Aaron Evans (2005) and Coyatito Smith (2002, 2003).

Former female winners include: Zakiyyah Showers (2010), Shar-dae Whitter (1998, 1999, 2001), Ashley Berry 2004, 2006) and Rachel Fox (2007, 2008).

Tuzo, who also plays netball for Netts and even danced later in Monday’s parade, has already etched her name into the record books even though running is not even her favourite sport.

“Netball is her favourite sport, she’s been playing netball since she was five,” said her mother Tanika White, a netball coach.

“I try to let her do the things she really enjoys. She won MVP for netball this year, but what she’s best at is running.”

Father Seioum Tuzo, a former Pacers runner who won medals at the East Coast Invitational meet, gave her the running genes.

Tuzo will travel with seven other young Pacers athletes to a track meet in Orlando this weekend.

“One thing I tell her is that a lot of Bermudian children are spoiled, but when you see the Jamaicans and the other islanders running they put in a lot of hard work,” White said. “I really give Pacers a lot of credit, especially Mr [Cal] Simons, they have been wonderful working with my daughter.

“She does tell me ‘mommy this is hard’ but yesterday after she ran she danced in the parade. She also swims, although not competitive, because it gives her a total body workout, it’s relaxing and she enjoys it. She also got an athletic scholarship to Saltus.

“I never worry about her being better than anybody, I just worry about her doing her best. At interschool sports she was champion girl.

“Two weeks ago she ran in the 1,500 metres and ran a 5:11 so within two months she took nearly ten seconds off her time.”

Scraders, a multiple medal winner at the Carifta Games, is someone Tuzo looks up to. Another runner, Jade Johnston, is a good friend.

“Selah is about five months older and is like a big sister to her. Jade stays over at our house all the time,” her mother said.

“Kyrah has talked to Selah before, she thinks Kyrah is a great athlete.”

n Other Junior Heritage age-group winners were Tommy Marshall and Tesyah-Mahle Astwood in the 8-10 girls, while Ryan Outerbridge took the boys 11-12 title in 11:25 which was also the day’s fastest time. Jayden Ming and Paige Bruton were the boys and girls 13-15 age-group winners.