Wed | Oct 4, 2023

Rivaldo Marshall – A man on a mission

Published:Tuesday | January 31, 2023 | 1:07 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer
Rivaldo Marshall competing in the 2000 metres steeplechase at the 2020 renewal of the Youngster Goldsmith meet at the National Stadium.
Rivaldo Marshall competing in the 2000 metres steeplechase at the 2020 renewal of the Youngster Goldsmith meet at the National Stadium.

A single moment can change your life. That’s the case for Jamaica’s Rivaldo Marshall, a student-athlete at Indian Hills Community College in Iowa, who won the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) 800 metres gold medal on May 21, 2022. He has been a man on a mission ever since.

His hard work has put him in the fast lane with a notable time over 800 metres indoors, and just last week, Marshall became the third fastest junior college athlete of all time over the indoor 600 metres with a personal best of two minutes 23.23 seconds on January 21 in Iowa.

Accordingly, the US Track and Field Coaches Association named him National Junior College Athlete of the Week.

“Rivaldo’s performance today was incredibly special,” head coach Brent Ewing told the Indian Hills website. “He’s been a completely different athlete since he won the national title last spring. Rivaldo entered this fall with a much more confident mentality. The level he has been training at is jaw-dropping – I’ve never seen anything like it. I told him earlier this fall that I thought he could break the NJCAA 800m record in December. To see it happen is really hard to process.”

Ewing was referring to Marshall’s fast 800m time – one minute 48.46 seconds – on an oversized track in December. “I’m so proud of Rivaldo,” the coach continued, but I’m also not surprised. His focus and work ethic has been relentless. He deserved this accomplishment.”

Errol Messias, Marshall’s coach at Calabar High School in Jamaica, is delighted.

“I’m really happy for Rivaldo, and it’s not a surprise,” he said.

Asked what Marshall was like when he was winning the 2019 Boys and Girls’ Championships 2000 metre steeplechase in Calabar’s green-and-black, Messias recounted, “Rivaldo is a hard-working athlete. He trains real hard, and once he believes in you, you will get him to do anything.”

During those days, Marshall was a key member of Calabar’s brilliant 4x800m relay unit, and Messias said: “Rivaldo could even make Calabar’s 4x400 team. So I knew that much. He’s a very humble youth and he doesn’t refuse to train. Once you give him instructions, he would follow. If he tells you that he’s hurt, you should believe him because he is not one who would shirk, and he gives it his all.”

Now 21, Marshall finished his Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships career with a typically versatile display. He took two silver medals at the 2021 renewal of the greatest high school meet on Earth, clocking five minutes 53.74 seconds in the steeple and one minute 48.86 seconds in the 800m.

Queried on what might be Marshall’s best event, Messias offered: “You know, what I think he would do best, he’s not doing it now. Rivaldo is a good 400m hurdler. As it is now, I think he’s going to be running a very good 800m. I think that’s best for him right now.”