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Coach and Athlete presses forward despite the drop in Runners Return

A young local long-distance runner and his coach spoke about their hopes to progress forward now that they can resume training after months of national lockdown.

Ian “Papoye” Simon, Coach and manager of Hurricane Power, a sports club, which was founded in 2000, along with young aspiring athlete Devon James, spoke to reporters from the Antiguan Trumpet about their hope to progress forward in their efforts to improve. 

Devon James is a 17-year-old from the village of Grace Farm who attends the Ottos Comprehensive School, his interest to become a professional athlete began eight years ago, when he saw his eldest brother training to compete in local tournaments. 

Presently the time of this aspiring olympian is divided between studies for CXC (Caribbean Examination Council) and daily training regimens with his club in the late afternoons in the facility of the Multi-Purpose Cultural Centre, Perry Bay Antigua. 

“In the day, I’m at school preparing for my CXC’s, then I head home to finish up assignments, right after I’m done I head off to training. I want running to become my career, during the lockdown I wasn’t able to train as much as I wanted to when I came back to practise I realised I wasn’t fit as before; but now that the curfew has been lifted, I am putting all my efforts into accomplishing my dreams. I am doing a lot of endurance training, hill work training and fartlek training to improve my stamina and speed,” James revealed. 

This high schooler stated that he has more medals than he can remember, along with six trophies; and a few stamps in his passport from travelling to compete in tournaments throughout the Caribbean; like Monsterrat and others.

In expressing great gratitude for his coach, he considers him to have been “a great help and support” throughout his years of training and development. 

Coach Simon revealed that the Covid-19 pandemic and episodes of lockdown and curfew restrictions have greatly affected the return of his athletes to training. 

Slightly discouraged at times wishing the numbers were higher; he regathers his motivation to keep pushing forward when he sees the consistency and dedication of James and others. 

“We basically only have a handful of athletes who come out to train, this handful has shown great dedication and seriousness to improve. I’m not saying that the others aren’t serious, they just aren’t as serious as those who show up daily. If you’re into any sports you must train, so if you’re not training you won’t improve and perform to the best of your ability.” 

“My vision right now is to get those who are here in top shape and competition ready, there have been small running events around the island throughout this year and we have been able to place first, second and third consistently at every event,” the couch verbalized.   

“My athletes are growing and improving weekly and this brings me great joy and contentment as a coach. I will continue to work with those who are here until they break through and become stars,” Simon expressed with a gesture of determination. 

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