By Neto Baptiste
Senior national athlete Jess St John said a lack of financial support is preventing her from adequately competing and preparing for the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games now slated for 2021.
The shot-put athlete, during an exclusive interview with Observer, said several attempts to secure some form of assistance from both the Antigua and Barbuda Athletics Association (ABAA) and the National Olympic Committee (NOC) have, so far, fallen on deaf ears.
“Even before I graduated from college, I sent them [NOC and athletics association] several emails and I actually contacted the NOC, the president of the athletics association [Everton Cornelius] and I let them know I was going to be graduating soon,” she said.
“I had a personal record at Commonwealth Games [17.32 meters] but it wasn’t good enough for me to get a sponsorship from one of these big brands, so I would need the country to support me or the athletics department to help me out but up to this day, nothing. I did all they required of me and sent it but still, no assistance,” she added.
St John, who graduated from the Kansas State University in 2019, now lives and works in the USA but said her earnings are simply not enough to fund her personal life and still finance her desire to represent Antigua and Barbuda.
“After I graduated from college, everything was basically left on myself from a financial standpoint so I had to basically take care of all of my finances and it was difficult, so right now I am just in the weight room for the past five to six months and I haven’t been doing any throwing per se,” she said.
The athlete, who last represented Antigua and Barbuda at the Commonwealth Games in 2018 where she finished seventh with a personal best of 17.32 meters, is still excited about representing her country of birth.
She said, however, this cannot be realised without adequate funding.
“I do, I honestly do, but for me to represent I am going to need the support. I cannot handle it on my own because it is difficult to maintain a lifestyle where I have to feed myself, pay my rent, pay my coaches, pay for the facilities, supplements, healthcare if necessary; but living wise just can’t do it on my own,” she said.
St John majored in kinesiology, which is the study of the mechanics of body movements to provide information about the state of health of all body organs and systems.
The athlete’s last outing for Antigua and Barbuda was, however, shrouded in controversy after she publicly criticised the national athletics association for providing inadequate uniforms ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia.
St John took to social media to state she had received a size much smaller than what she had requested, adding that the issue was a recurring one. The athlete, however, later apologised for her posts and later went on to compete.