‘Make use of what you have’: Successful St Lucian high jumper tells regional athletes they can achieve despite facilities woes

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Retired St Lucian high jumper Lavern Spencer (right) has won the St Lucia National Sports Awards a record 16 times (Track Alert photo)
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By Neto Baptiste

Retired St Lucian high jumper Lavern Spencer, although acknowledging that having the proper equipment and facilities at your disposal could help make you a better athlete, has encouraged athletes from smaller and poorer countries to fully utilise what they have been given.

Speaking recently on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show Spencer, a Commonwealth Games gold medalist, said that although she would have trained at some of the best facilities around the world, she wants other aspiring athletes to know that this was not always the case and that she had to work with what she was given during the early stages of her career.

“When I trained at the World High Jump Centre in Germany and some other major facilities in the UK as well, everything was at your disposal, like there wasn’t anything I needed that wasn’t there so in terms of wanting to do a specific exercise everything I needed was right there. I had no limitations and no excuses for saying that I wish I had this in order to do that and not having these things in a smaller country then we may complain and say we don’t have this or we don’t have that but that doesn’t mean you can’t get to the top without that,” 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.

Asked why she thinks not many of the region’s field athletes excel at the International level, Spencer said field events require a lot more technical work and patience.

“I feel the field events, they are very technical and it takes a lot of years and a lot dedication to the sport.  Now that I have retired, I felt like every year I was still learning even if I’ve been in the sport for over 20 years there is always something new. I think everybody is going to say that their event is [technical]. Honestly speaking, I feel like field events, there are a lot more technical,” the athlete said.

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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