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PRESS RELEASE – Saint Lucia’s team to the 2016 Summer OIympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will once again be led by ace high jumper, Levern Spencer.
The five-member team, which will contest events in three sports, was formally announced on Thursday, during a press conference hosted by the Saint Lucia Olympic Committee Incorporated (SLOC) at its Barnard Hill offices.
According to the SLOC president, Fortuna Belrose, the 2015 Pan American Games women’s High Jump champion “is our most decorated Saint Lucian athlete, and she will be with us for a third consecutive Games. Based on what we have seen of Levern in the last year, we believe that she is poised to deliver one of the best performances of her career. She appears eager, she is confident and she is now very mature. Her personal coach (Petros Kyprianou) will also be in attendance at the Games.”
A second high jumper, 2015 NCAA champion Jeanelle Scheper, was actually the first Saint Lucian to meet the qualifying standards for Rio 2016. Her personal coach, Delethea Quarles, has also been accredited.
Although Saint Lucia has been represented on the track in 1996 and 2000, men’s 100m entrant Jahvid Best is the first actual qualifier in a track event for the SLOC. Jahvid’s addition to Team Saint Lucia has occasioned a great deal of scrutiny from the American media, due to his previous experience as a running back for the Detroit Lions in the National Football League.
In recent weeks, two athletes were awarded universality places.
In swimming, Jordan Augier fell just short of the qualifying mark in the men’s 50m Freestyle at the Pan American Games in 2015. He will be accompanied by Jamie Peterkin as his coach.
In sailing, Stephanie Devaux Lovell will be the second consecutive Saint Lucian representative in women’s Laser Radial, following Beth Lygoe in 2012. Stephanie is to be accompanied by New Zealander Suzanna Pyatt as coach.
David ‘Shakes’ Christopher will serve as Chef de Mission. Christopher has had a wealth of experience in managing teams. He will be assisted by Mrs Joyce Huxley who will serve as team chaperone for the team.
Belrose took the opportunity to announce a performance-based incentive program for the athletes, which includes rewards for making it into the finals of their respective events.
“The Saint Lucia Olympic Committee recognises the importance of acknowledging the effort of athletes,” she said. “And while the dollar amounts in no way represent the value of the achievement of delivering a medal for Saint Lucia, they represent the value of the token of appreciation the SLOC will make to any athlete(s) who medal for Saint Lucia under the ambit of the SLOC.”
Athletes who attain the semifinals will earn a $5000 bonus, whilst those making the finals will garner $10000. A bronze medallist will get $15000, a silver medallist $20000, and a gold medallist $25000.
“Over the last four years the Saint Lucia Olympic Committee has focused its attention on the provision of a greater level of support for athletes and the creation of a more athlete-friendly environment in the delivery of its services.
“We developed a number of tools and strengthened our internal systems to assist in facilitating and helping them to realise their best performances at this year’s Games. It is a process that we are proud of as no athlete who is/was deserving has been left behind. With the support of our affiliates we have been able to deliver our team for the Rio Olympics.”
According to Mrs Belrose, the journey to Rio 2016 began some six years ago with a pool of approximately 20 athletes from six associations, including athletics, boxing, cycling, sailing, swimming and volleyball.