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Arkansas feels like home for Perinchief

Perinchief will be following in the footsteps of a Bermudian world champion (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)

Jah-Nhai Perinchief will follow in the footsteps of Bermudian world champion Brian Wellman, by enrolling in the University of Arkansas’s track-and-field programme.

The 19-year-old jumper will begin studies in the autumn at the university, whose legendary programme has won 11 NCAA cross-country titles, 20 indoor titles and ten outdoor titles.

“Jah-Nhai is one of the best young jumpers in the world,” Razorbacks assistant track-and-field coach Travis Geopfert said. “He’s already proven himself in the high jump and has just scratched the surface in the triple jump and long jump.

“He’s a very competitive young man that’s excited to help us build on our Razorback tradition. We couldn’t be more excited he has chosen to join us as a Razorback.”

Perinchief, who is ranked seventh in the world at the under-20 level, chose Arkansas over several other universities, including Georgia, Purdue, Iowa and Albany.

“I felt it was the best decision for me,” said Perinchief, a five-times National Junior College All-American. “There were a lot of great schools that had even more of a specialised taste in my event, but sports was one thing and schooling is another. I loved the way the academic centre supported their athletes, it opened my eyes to see how much help and support they had compared to a lot of the other schools.

“Most importantly, the coaching staff made me feel as if I was at home. The amount of competition I had in all the events just between my team-mates helped a lot too. I feel as though one thing that can help me get better is people as good or even better than me. I don’t mind working hard.”

Arkansas is the same university where Wellman, the former world indoor triple jump champion, honed his skills.

Wellman, who holds Bermuda records in the indoor (17.72 metres) and outdoor triple jump (17.62), won two NCAA outdoor titles during his time at Arkansas.

Among Perinchief’s short-term objectives is qualifying for this summer’s World Championship in London.

“The World Championships is a major goal for me,” he said. “Depending on how this season goes I plan to do something special for the island.

“Another big goal for me is consistency. That was one thing I wanted to focus on rather than just smacking one good height in the season. I wanted to get a bunch of heights in, therefore being able to get to even higher height attempts throughout the year.

“United States high jumper and Olympic medal-winner [silver] Erik Kynard was talking to me on one of my visits and really helped me to think differently about high jumping.”

Perinchief made a bright start to the new year, soaring to victory despite carrying a niggling injury with a leap of 2.17, competing for Iowa Central Community College at a meet at the Minnesota State in Mankato last weekend.

“All in all it was a good opener,” he said.

“The coach told me to stop. I’m slightly injured so he didn’t want me to push anything. He just wanted me to get my jitters out.

“But I got a NJCAA lead and one centimetre under my indoor personal best, not bad at all.

“I’m way stronger, I just want to heal up and see what I can really do.”