Rattler makes big strides on track

He’s the defending MEAC champion in the 200-meter dash. Just a few weeks ago, he was ranked 11th in the world in that event.

But he said he’s just an ordinary guy.

Sheldon Morant, 22, has carved himself a position in the collegiate track world.

He ranked fourth in the MEAC his freshman year, third his sophomore year and now holds the best 200-meter dash time.

He is ranked second in the region, which includes track powerhouses like the University of Miami, Clemson, the University of Florida and the University of South Carolina.

Born and raised in Port More, Jamaica, Morant dabbled in several sports, including track and field.

He tried volleyball.

He tried football.

He even received a football scholarship to the University of Arkansas. But there was something about running track that fascinated him.

“Speed is something that intrigues me,” Morant said.

“Something that moves fast is exciting. It’s a certain rush I can’t explain.”

Behind his intense stare is an unwavering focus that Morant said helps him to concentrate.

“I’m focused on the sound of the gun,” Morant said.

“I don’t think about the competition, I just think about what I have to do.”

Ukiwe Maduekwe, a teammate, said when he first met Morant he thought he was strange, but soon grew to like him.

“We clashed at first, but we got along because of our differences,” said Maduekwe, a long and triple jumper.

“On the track he’s all about business.”

Maduekwe, 23, a junior computer information systems student from Tallahassee, described Morant as very encouraging.

“He pushes everybody to do their best, and he does quite a good job of doing that.”

Morant, a senior broadcast journalism student, said he wants to go as far as track will take him, but wouldn’t mind a career in the media.

“I want to work in a news environment,” he said.

“I’d like to work behind the scenes, run the equipment and do the little technical stuff.”

But for now, his concentration remains on track. Morant said he plans on trying out for the national team and wants to compete in the world championships in August.

He said if all goes well with world championship, he’d try out for the Olympics.

Men’s track and field coach Rey Robinson said Morant has a strong possibility of making the team and will add to the rich legacy FAMU already has.

“We have a history of sprinting,” Robinson said.

“Sheldon has just become a part of that club.”

Robinson said he has seen Morant grow as a runner since his freshman year.

“He is a pretty decent runner,” Robinson said.

“He was the No. 1 sprinter and has held that position. Sheldon’s world-class.”

Robinson described Morant as a hard worker and very dedicated, which Morant echoed.

“Even when it’s 30 degrees, I’m out on the track running,” Morant said.

“When you love something nothing else matters.”

Robinson said Morant shares the responsibility of team captain and he is well liked by his teammates.

“I don’t see myself as superior to my teammates,” Morant said.

“I’m just one of the guys.”

Morant said looking back, he never imagined himself as the decorated athlete he is today.

“The thought never crossed my mind,” he said.

“I forget when I’m on the track but when I’m by myself, I’m ecstatic.”

From the joy of winning his first team championship to the pain from failing to qualify for nationals last May, Morant has seen the full realm of emotions that competition can bring. But he deals with it the best way he knows how.

“I was raised with a lot of discipline,” Morant said.

“The discipline came in handy. It played a very integral role.”

Though some may say Sheldon Morant is sitting pretty at the other side of the finish line, Morant himself sees an entirely different picture.

“I see myself as someone who’s improving, who’s getting better as the days go by.”

Rahkia Nance can be reached at petite8228@aol.com