By Neto Baptiste
Antigua and Barbuda long jumper, Dahlia Barnes, believes that had it not been for separate knee injuries spanning 2020 and 2021, she would have met the 6.15m (20ft two inches) qualifying mark for this year’s World Athletics U20 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya.
Antigua and Barbuda will not be represented at the August 17-22 championships after news that the country’s lone qualifier, women’s sprinter, Joella Lloyd, would not be attending the youth event.
“I was in shape to jump over six meters before I left Antigua after my first knee injury because my coach Keswin Anthony got me back up to jumping 5.63 meters in flats. So, with the training going into the off season and so on, I would have been able to jump over six meters and hopefully been at the World Juniors this year,” she said.
Barnes, who attends the Florida Atlantic University, said she remembers the injury like it happened only yesterday.
“I cried a lot when I was in the hospital and realized I had torn my ACL [Anterior Cruciate Ligament] again because it was like I had to go through the same process once more so it was very traumatic actually. I was at practice, dislocated my knee and the ambulance had to come and get me and I went to the emergency room. After they put my knee in place I had to do an X-ray and an MRI and they found out that my ACL was torn, my LCL [Lateral Collateral Ligament] and a small muscle behind the back of my knee,” the athlete said.
The 18-year-old athlete said that although she will not be able to compete at this year’s world youth championships, her ultimate goal remains representing the twin-island state at the next Olympic Games in Paris.
“I’ve had people at my school tell me that if it was them, they wouldn’t be continuing but I have a goal that I want to achieve at the Olympics hopefully in 2024 and I am still pushing towards that so I can’t quit,” she said.
Barnes has a personal best of 5.81m in the long jump which she attained in 2018.
Lloyd is the country’s long youth athlete to have attained the qualifying standard for the World Athletics U20 Championships after she clocked 11.19 seconds at the Tennessee Challenge in Knoxville in May. The performance eclipsed the 11.85 qualifying mark for the youth championships.