Renny Quow struck gold in the men’s 400 metres at the 2006 IAAF World Junior Championships, in Beijing, China. Just three years later, he was back on the rostrum at a global event, the Trinidad and Tobago quarter-miler bagging bronze at the World Championships in Athletics, in Berlin, Germany.
When asked what he considers his biggest achievement to date, Quow responds without hesitation.
“Berlin of course. That put me on the map for sure. Not just making the final, but getting that medal.”
But while the German capital holds a special place in Quow’s heart, the Chinese capital, Beijing is dear to him as well. Two years after his golden run at World Juniors, he advanced all the way to the final at the Beijing Olympics, copping seventh spot in the championship race.
The Road to Beijing started in Scarborough, Tobago, at St Andrew’s Anglican primary school.
“This guy saw me running in primary school. Mr Reid. He’s the one that really found me. He introduced me to coach Gerard Franklyn.”
Franklyn and his brother, Wade Franklyn, coaches at the Zenith club in Tobago, are responsible for Quow’s early development.
The Franklyn brothers guided Quow to many triumphs. One of his early successes came at the 2004 National Junior Championships, at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain, Trinidad. Just 16 at the time, Quow won in a then personal best 46.60 seconds. It was that clocking that made him realise he had a bright future in the sport.
Quow spent his early years, in Morvant, Trinidad, where he lived with his parents, Rupert and Rena Quow. Morvant is Rupert’s hometown, while Renny’s mother, Rena, is from Tobago, the smaller of the two islands that make up the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
“My mother moved back to Tobago. I left Trinidad at eight or nine.”
Renny and his five brothers enjoyed a lot of freedom while living in Trinidad.
“But when we moved to Tobago it was a new environment. We kept to ourselves for a while. We lived with our aunt [Agnes Mohammed] when mom would go away for a couple months. Our aunt was strict, [and] the discipline helped me in athletics. Our aunt would just have us working in the yard, going to training and back, and watching TV.”
Now, Quow is on television, being watched by millions as he plies his trade.
“Don’t think I could do anything else. This is what I’m good at. Say you’re a musician, and that’s all you could do, you stick with it. For me, going into something else would be hard. It takes time and effort to develop a career or a skill. This is where God comes in. He gave me the talent and I’m using it to the best of my ability.”
While Quow travels quite a bit on the professional circuit, he does not do much sightseeing.
“Just hotel to stadium and back.”
And before he competes, the Florida-based athlete tries to focus on other things.
“When I’m going to run I try not to think about it. I watch movies, play music or play table tennis.”
The youngest of Quow’s five brothers, Ryan played a fairly high standard of table tennis as a teenager. It is a sport Renny likes as well, and he grabs any opportunity to get on the table.
But it is athletics that has made Renny Quow a household name in Trinidad and Tobago. At 44.53 seconds, he is the country’s second fastest quarter-miler ever, behind Ian Morris, who established his 44.21 seconds national record at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Quow has a lot of respect for Morris, and considers him Trinidad and Tobago’s best ever 400 metres runner. But, in his early days in the sport, while still a student at St Andrew’s Anglican, Morris was not the athlete Quow wanted to emulate.
“Saw this guy running on the field. He moved so fast, so I went up to him and asked him how he did it. Damon Douglas…he was real fast. I looked up to him for a while.”
Quow and Douglas became best friends. Douglas, though, no longer competes.
Quow is a former South Plains College (Texas) student. He won the American junior college outdoor 400 metres title for the school in 2008 and the indoor title in 2009.
“I’m not in school right now. It’s kind of hard to be ranking in the world and be in school. My mind could only take one thing. I was doing well in school, an associate degree. I may finish after track.”
But right now, Quow’s energies are focused entirely on track, and his dream of becoming the first Trinidad and Tobago quarter-miler to strike gold at the Olympics.
“I’ll try. I know it’s hard, but I’ll still try.”
Climbing to the top of the rostrum is a tough task indeed. At 1.70 metres, Quow is one of the shortest one-lap runners on the international circuit.
“I must be the shortest ever,” he jokes, “but height don’t bother me, don’t bother me at all.”
Quow concedes, though, that his come-from-behind style of running is risky when competing against the best in the world.
“Everyone has their own unique style…kind of hard to change. Me and my coach (Wayne Lewis) are trying to fix that. I can’t afford to let them get too far ahead. I’m working on a stronger first half, and still hope my kick is powerful enough to finish.”
Quow conditions himself to think positively, even when he does not perform to his expectations in a race.
“No disappointment. Just a blur and just forget about it. In track and field, once you have stress you can’t perform.”
As an elite athlete, Quow needs to set aside time for relaxing activities, activities that would help him stay stress-free. In addition to watching movies, listening to dancehall music - Vybz Kartel and Mavado are among his favourite artistes and playing table tennis, he likes to play video games, hang out with family and eat.
“I love to eat. Once it tastes good, I eat it. I live alone, so I cook for myself. Mom taught me. I’m a good cook.”
Prepared by Kwame Laurence for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. © 2010 IAAF
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Renny Quow & Flag
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200m, 400m, 4x400m
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