By Neto Baptiste
Following his Commonwealth Youth Games gold medal performance in 2017 and his subsequent move to the Western Kentucky University in Kentucky, USA, Antigua and Barbuda’s national long jump athlete, Sheldon Noble, seemed to have pretty much vanished entirely from the scene.
As a matter of fact, Noble did not feature much on the local scene, competing in only one national championship prior to the recent 2022 edition of the event, which caused many to speculate as to whether or not he had given up on his athletic dream.
Speaking recently on the Good Morning Jojo sports show, however, Noble shed light on the struggles he endured due to injuries, making the transition and just finding the right fit since leaving for university in 2018.
“I went on to the Western Kentucky University but it was a different experience leaving home, and it was hard coping up there with the weather and everything. So, it didn’t go as planned or the way I expected it, and I was jumping over six meters which is what the girls were doing,” he said.
“They had a head coach but he had left Western Kentucky and current head coach said he was not getting a jumps coach, so for three months I was just there sitting and doing my own thing. I went on and transferred to Stephen F Austin State University and was training for a few weeks for conference in March that year. I went for the triple jump and that’s where I ruptured my patella tendon and was out for the whole of 2021,” he added.
Noble leaped a personal best of 7.64 meters (25.06 feet) at the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games to win gold for Antigua and Barbuda in Nassau, Bahamas, while he had a personal best of 14.51 meters in the triple jump achieved in 2019 in Bowling Green, USA.
The now 21-year-old made a return to the National Track & Field Championships last weekend to claim the men’s long jump title with a leap of 7.26 meters (23.81 feet).
The former Antigua Grammar School student is confident of making a strong return.
“I am still getting back there because 7.5 meters was my furthest this year so far, so I think I could improve on that. I will see how that goes but next year is where I am really trying or targeting for a comeback on the big stage. I’ve been hard on myself lately but looking at all I’ve been through and still being able to come back, I said I’d just give myself a pass,” he said.
Noble is part of a seven-member team set to represent Antigua and Barbuda at the inaugural Caribbean Games in Guadeloupe from June 29 to July 3. He is joined by 2021 NACAC Championships triple jump silver medallist Taeco O’Garro and sprinter Barak Matthew.
Tivon Benjamin, Jadon Wuillez, Olivia Fuller and Arianna John will compete in swimming, with cyclist Emmanuel Gayral rounding off the selections.