Sports versus Covid -19: Local Athletes Eager to Resume the Rivalry

In recent weeks a number of local, regional and international sporting organizations/ federations have been forced to suspend/postpone or cancel a number of events as a result of health and logistical concerns brought about by the global coronavirus crisis.

(L-R) Naomi London (Athletics); Zaida James (Cricket) and Alysa Elliott (Tennis).

Thoughts are starting to turn to how the various sporting disciplines may be able to resume rivalry in a few weeks or months’ time. Indeed, in some cases , teams are already training again and preparing to play.

Fom the outside looking in and in spite of the current situation, local organisers have remained committed to staging competitions where the various sportsmen and sportswomen can compete and fans can enjoy the excitement which has eluded them for months.

To date there has been no provisional calendar or date set for the resumption of any local event. All organizers are awaiting the all clear from the Ministry of Health.

The VOICE spoke to three of Fair Helen’s up and coming national sports personalities who shared their thoughts on the current state of affairs.

Kicking out from Lane three is 13-year-old Naomi London, a first form student at the Vieux Fort Comprehensive Secondary School and a member of the Pace Setters Athletics Club.

London last competed at the National Junior Track and Field Championship in March and was not her usual self as she was nursing an injury. She was still able to anchor Pace Setters 4×100 meters women’s relay team to victory.

At the Independence Games in February she performed remarkably well. According to London, “I ran the 100 meters with a time of 12.28 seconds and the 200 meters in a time of 25.36 seconds”.

In terms of the ongoing online classes she said, “The online classes have not been difficult for me because the work given is revision of what we learned in the previous two terms. The only difference is that we are not in a physical classroom with our teachers and friends. It can sometimes be challenging because some assignments are not entirely understandable. However, I have my cousin Angela O’Brien who has been assisting me along with the teachers in the classroom chat”.

London is leaving no stone unturned as she continues to keep fit. She said, “I do daily exercises and walk around the community (Belle Vue) with my coach, Claude Charlemagne. Due to Covid-19, I am not able to do my usual training sessions since I am unable to go to the George Odlum Stadium (GOS).

Like all other athletes she is keeping her fingers crossed that the worse will soon be over.

“I am hoping that everything is going to work as planned and I am extremely eager to go back to training because I really do not want to get out of shape with my body mass”.

London added, “ I am disappointed because I was prepared for my upcoming events. I was hoping that I could break records and make family and club members proud.”

The VOICE also spoke to Under 19 female national cricketer Zaida James. Zaida is a form 2 student of the Entrepot Secondary School.

She told us that the Covid -19 pandemic had affected her “tremendously.”

“I miss being in the classroom with my teachers and fellow classmates. I  do embrace the online classes which have been going good so far. I thought it would have been a challenge however, I am coping quite well”.

Zaida last represented Saint Lucia at the Windward Islands Senior Women’s Cricket Tournament in February.

“I performed quite well and made my maiden half century,” she said. “Upon completion I was selected on both the Windward Islands Senior Women’s and Under 19 teams and was appointed vice-captain,” she noted.

Zaida was also disappointed with the postponement of sporting activities. She had been looking forward to playing tournaments in Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, where she would have been afforded the opportunity to make the Under 19 side and participate in the first Under 19 Women’s World Cup to be held in Bangladesh early next year.

As for her fitness level: “I never stop training. I do my workouts at home, as well as using my ball machine with the help of my dad. I can’t wait to put on my gear to play competitive cricket again!”

Also getting into the thick of things was national tennis player Alysa Elliott. Alysa is a form 3 student of the St Joseph’s Convent.

She too shared her experience.

“2019 was a very active year of competition for me,” she said. “The Sagicor Under 14 was my last time representing Saint Lucia. It was a learning experience as all tournaments are, but this one was more rewarding because even though I didn’t win, it was one of my best performances in an international tournament. It motivated me to push myself into achieving a great win in our local Christmas Tournament at the end of 2019. I won the Girls Under 18s singles title”.

In terms of the current school situation Alysa said, “The virtual school setting has been quite frustrating. In my opinion, if we shouldn’t sleep at school we shouldn’t work at home but on a serious note I have been trying my best to keep up and wake up in time for the few classes I have had so far. It is very unusual and surprising but I would much prefer to actually be going to school for many reasons, the main one being seeing my friends but also to be back in the regular work routine. But we have to do what is necessary in the circumstances we are in at the moment and make the sacrifice to take care of each other.”

She continued, “It is very unfortunate that I cannot go on the court but I have looked at this as a blessing because I had a slight injury before the lockdown and this time off court has given me time to fully recover. I have been keeping up with exercise to try to stay in the best condition possible. I’ve been swimming due to my injury but it has been a good change and a different way for me to use my muscles. My hopes are high that I will be able to be back on my usual grind in time to thoroughly prepare for the tournament. I am itching to get back on court!”

Anthony De Beauville is The VOICE Publishing Company’s multi-award winning sports journalist. He works closely with a number of sports federations including the Department of Youth Development and Sports, the Saint Lucia Olympic Committee and other organizations.

He covers and contributes articles highlighting the areas of international, regional, national, community based clubs and schools sporting activities. There is never an off day as he stays busy... Read full bio...

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