Fitzroy Dunkley
Fitzroy Dunkley LSU via The Advocate

Fitzroy Junior Dunkley is another of those names in Track & Field that most of us never knew was from Trelawny parish. He represented Jamaica College (JC) in Boys and Girls Championships.

It was only a few days ago we featured a story about former William Knibb and St Hugh’s High athlete, Fellan Ferguson.

The parish seems to be synonymous with success in Track & Field and Junior is making quick strides in the 400 metres. It was only in last year’s (2015) indoor season that he switched to the 400 metres.

Since then, he is rapidly reducing his times and this year, he represented Jamaica in the World Indoors Championship in Portland, USA. He reached the semi-final of the individual event and placed 4th in the relay.

With his lightning fast improvement, Fitzroy looks to be one for the future for Jamaica.

Fitzroy Junior Dunkley was born on May 20, 1993 to parents Fitzroy Dunkley and Patlin Rattray. He is a Marketing Major at Louisiana State University (LSU).


From: The Advocate 

Struggling with injuries through the first two years of his collegiate track and field career, LSU jumper Fitzroy Dunkley came to the realization that he needed to make a change.

 Dunkley came to LSU from Jamaica in 2012 as a promising triple jumper and high jumper before a series of injuries, especially a lower back ailment, made it problematic to continue in those events.
Tall and thin, Dunkley found it increasingly painful to negotiate the high-jump bar, his primary event for most of his high school career. In turn, it affected the triple jump, which he picked up as a senior in Trelawny, Jamaica.

In the summer of 2014, Dunkley made a career-changing event switch that not even LSU coach Dennis Shaver had seen in 3½ decades as a college coach.

Dunkley moved off the jumping runways to the track, where he lined up in the 400 meters for the first time in the 2015 indoor season — with amazing results.

“Well, it’s been interesting,” Shaver said of Dunkley’s transformation. “In 35 years of coaching, I hadn’t seen anybody make that transition, and Fitz did it so quickly with so little experience in that event.”

Saying Dunkley had little experience as a sprinter is an understatement.

At 6 feet, 5 inches, Dunkley said he never considered running once he took up the sport back home and became a jumper.

 “It was always high jump and triple jump,” he said with a smile. “In Jamaica, you stick to whatever events you’re doing. Track and field is real serious there, so you stick with your events and try to get better at them year after year.”

When he saw little improvement in the jumps at LSU, mainly because of injuries, Dunkley made the switch that’s served him well for two seasons.

He will try to improve even more this postseason, starting with the Southeastern Conference championships that will be held Thursday through Saturday in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

What made the transition easier, Shaver said, is Dunkley’s demeanor.

“No. 1, he’s just a fierce competitor,” Shaver said. “He was having all kinds of trouble with the injuries, so we did some testing (on the track) and thought he had some good sprinting talent.”

Fitzroy Dunkley portrait
Fitzroy Dunkley portrait via LSU Sports

The next question was which event to try. While Shaver initially thought the 400-meter hurdles might be the right spot, discussions about the open 400 soon came up.

 “I felt like the quarter was the best fit for me because of my body structure and the speed and endurance I had,” Dunkley said. “At first, I was just doing small stuff trying to get used to it. Then, it felt pretty natural to me.

“I’m a quick learner, but I’m a better competitor.”

It turned out to be the right move, especially when the outdoor season rolled around.

Dunkley clocked a personal-best time of 45.78 seconds to finish fifth at the SEC championships, less than two months after running a 47.15 in his first competitive outdoor 400.

A month later, he ran the second leg for the Tigers’ 4×400-meter relay team that raced to the NCAA title in 3 minutes, 01.96 seconds.

The rapid improvement continued in his senior season as Dunkley recorded a personal best of 46.04 at the SEC meet and anchored the 4×400 relay that won the NCAA indoor title.

 In the outdoor season, he’s lowered his PR to 45.52 seconds at the LSU Alumni Gold meet and in the same competition anchored the relay to a time of 3:00.38, the second-fastest time ever run before nationals.

That sizzling relay time has LSU at the top of the NCAA’s list and the current favorite to win a second consecutive title in the event.

Not only that, but it has Dunkley thinking about a strong run that could earn him a spot on Jamaica’s Olympic team this summer in the open 400 or the relay — or both.

It’s pretty heady stuff for a guy that once soared nearly 7 feet in the high jump and better than 51½ feet in the triple jump.

But the Jamaican trials in late June and the Olympics can wait.

Dunkley is more focused on the SECs, NCAA preliminary rounds and NCAA championships where he hopes to help LSU win the team title and mile relay again to complete an unusual college journey — not even dreaming where it would end up after coming here as a jumper.

“Jumping was always on my mind,” he said with a shrug of his shoulders. “But life comes at you fast, and sometimes you have to adjust. I feel like I’m real good at adjusting, and I think it shows.”




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