Morris shines for Montserrat in Beijing

Alexus Richardson

One of WKU’s track athletes, Julius Morris, has returned to the Hill after placing fifth in his heat in the 2015 IAAF World Championships held in Beijing.

Morris was competing in Beijing while representing his home nation of Montserrat. 

Montserrat is a small Caribbean island in the British West Indies where, according to Morris, there are not many sprinters.  Morris said he held the fastest time on the island in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes and therefore was selected to represent his country in the world championships.

While Morris didn’t return from China with any hardware, the experience and caliber of competition present at the world championships is something Erik Jenkins, WKU’s head coach of track and field and cross-country, is excited for his athletes to encounter. 

 “Other than the Olympic championships, this is the biggest meet in the world,” Jenkins said. 

Accordingly, Morris underwent intense physical training to prepare for the competition’s components. 

“There was a lot of rigorous training, proper eating habits and making sure that I get the adequate amount of rest that I had to remember in order to be able to go out and execute,” Morris said. “It takes a lot of commitment.” 

The process to enter world championships was different for Morris partially due to the sport’s lack of popularity. He entered competition as an unqualified athlete. 

Each athlete must meet certain entry standards to qualify in both the 100-meter and 200-meter events. Although no one from Montserrat met these qualifications, Morris’s time was the best on the island, so he was able to compete. 

While he entered as an unqualified athlete, Morris did earn the standards needed to be a qualified athlete before the world championships took place by competing in the NACAC Conference in San Juan, Costa Rica. There he ran personal bests: a national record of 20.45 seconds in the 200-meter and a national record of 10.23 seconds in the 100-meter. Competing in Costa Rica and a few other international meets allowed Morris to feel what this specific meet would be like. 

Unfortunately, Morris fell ill close to race time. 

“I was quite sick and got a little bit better before my race. On the day of my race, I was fairly alright, but after [the race] I just got more sick.” Morris said.

Morris is also unique to the WKU team in that he reached out to Head Coach Jenkins for recruitment rather than being approached by the coach. 

“People don’t realize the amount of hard work, dedication and discipline that goes into preparing,” Morris said. “It’s been exciting to represent WKU and to compete against the best in the world.”