‘Don’t limit yourself’: Retired St Lucian high jumper offers advice to young athletes

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Lavern Spencer
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By Neto Baptiste

Decorated St Lucian high jumper Lavern Spencer is encouraging young athletes to trust in God and believe in themselves as they strive for excellence in whatever discipline they choose to compete.

A Commonwealth Games gold medallist in 2018, the recently retired Spencer was speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, when she said nothing beats faith in God and hard work.

“Don’t limit yourself, don’t underestimate what you can do and not because you’re coming from a small country with limited resources means you can’t achieve. I’ve made it to the highest level of track and field and so if I can do it then you can do it, too. I use this motto which is ‘God + hard work + discipline = success’ because I believe that anything I have achieved in life wasn’t on my own strength. It was all because of God and I believe you also have to work extremely hard because nothing comes freely,” she said.

Spencer, who is undoubtedly St Lucia’s most decorated women’s athlete having won the top national sports award 16 times, retired from international competition in October this year.

She said the decision was not an easy one.

“It was an extremely difficult decision because as you know I have been doing this for more than half of my life, over 23 years, consecutive years in the sport, so to leave something that you love it was like a lot of mixed emotions. I gave it a lot of thought before making a decision but I think now is the time and there was no doubt in my mind that I have made the right decision to just bow out gracefully from the sport that I love so much,” she said.

Spencer, whose personal best was 1.98m, a national record, had her best performance at an Olympic Games in Rio 2016 when she cleared 1.93m to finish sixth in the final.

During the 2007 season, Spencer won the NACAC Championships and took bronze at the Pan American Games, behind Mexico’s Romary Rifka and Canada’s Nicole Forrester. Competing at her second senior 2007 World Championships in Osaka, the St Lucian created history when making the final, equalling her own national record of 1.94 meters in the preliminary round. She then finished 15th with a height of 1.90 meters.

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