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Levern Spencer clears world’s best height at Drake Relays

By Terry Finisterre, Sport Correspondent

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2016 Rio Invitational High Jump champion Levern Spencer with Drake President Marty Martin (far rights). Photo: Drake Relays.

2016 Rio Invitational High Jump champion Levern Spencer with Drake President Marty Martin (far rights). Photo: Drake Relays.

So far for the outdoor season, only two other women in the world have jumped as high as Levern Donaline Spencer. One of the other two, Chaunté Lowe of the USA, turned 32 earlier this season. Levern turns 32 in June. The third woman is another Caribbean athlete, 21-year-old phenomenon, akela Jones of Barbados.

But it was the Saint Lucian Olympian and Pan Am Games champion making the news this weekend. Levern contested the Rio Invitational Women’s High Jump at the Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee, a meet where she has usually been the bridesmaid.

Her rivals in Des Moines included defending champion, Doreen Amata of Nigeria, and recently minted professional athlete, Vashti Cunningham, a teenage prodigy who is expected to add the World Junior Championships title to her World Junior Record and World Indoor Championships gold later this year.

With constant rain leading to soggy conditions outdoors, and Levern saying that she was “concerned” about the footing, it was a relief for all the jumpers to discover that the competition would be moved indoors, even though it would still go into the IAAF classification as an “outdoor” meet.

Amata, Cunningham, and Maya Pressley of the USA all went clear first time at 1.75m, a height eschewed by the Saint Lucian. She entered at 1.80, and cleared it on her first attempt, as did five other competitors. At 1.85, though, the herd began to thin. The top four cleared in straightforward fashion, whilst only two other athletes carried on.

Surprisingly, the title was won at 1.90m, where Levern needed two bites at the cherry. But the two Americans and the Nigerian were unable to get over on three trials at 6’0.75″ and handed the gold medal to the Entrepot Secondary alumna, at 1.55m the shortest woman in the field by some ways (Amata is 1.89m or 6’6″ tall!).

Levern moved the bar to 1.95m, three centimetres better than she has done before this season. It required a second effort, but up and over she went at 6’4/75″ to match the world lead. Three tries at what would have been a new CARICOM record 2.00m proved fruitless, but the job had been done.

Following her victory, Levern expressed her delight at her latest accomplishment:

“Today in terms of performance it was great because it’s a season’s best, and it’s the number one jump in the world so far, so I’m pleased with that… I’m really excited. I’ve competed at Drake like several years, and I’m always like second or third, so finally I’m first this time, so I’m really excited for that.”

Levern will next compete at the Shanghai Diamond League event.

(29)(0)
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10 comments

  1. Well congrats Lavern. Proud of you. Sorry for all the poor support from the govt and sponsorship. Now u can smile girl. Lucia is still Ur country so like or Not they will recognise it. Don't give up.

    (3)(0)
  2. Name the babonneau school after Laverne......stop treating the young lady like crap.....too long she has kept st Lucia name on the map with outstanding performance

    (2)(0)
  3. Laverne continues to do well while the powers that be in St. Lucia continue treating her like crap. I admire her resilience. She needs to be more vocal about her struggles with the local administration including the Olympic Commitee. Her voice will help the athletes who are coming after her, so they won't have to go through what what she has had to. She has done well in spite of the local authorities. Congratulations to her.

    (3)(2)
  4. Great job Lavern. You are a great ambassador for St.Lucia. You encourage and continue to motivate us not to give up.

    (5)(0)
  5. That's pretty Awesome you lady!!... PUTTING ST.LUCIA ON THE MAP.

    (14)(0)
    • I don't think she putting Lucia on the map I think she putting her self on the map. The reason I say that is cause is only when you reach a certain level in what you do the country actually recognises you but when you start small no one wants to know you or contribute to you to make you grow and develop in the field of sport , I mean take for instance how she was treated when she was sent alone with no coach or probably any form of support the last time which is embarrassing but now they want to recognise her as putting us on the map ,when someone puts you on the map no matter what you go all out for them and be there for them,I can also never forget when darran Sammy said he used to look for sponsership just to buy a bat and a ball before where he is now because he had dreams and ambition and even that to was difficult for him but look at him now and everyone recognises him because he has made it now so its like only when you at the top they will great you with honors and make big fete for you when you return home and it was just you alone working hard to get where you were with little or no help at all but now they want to say you doing good things for your country when your country most times was no where with you to make you the successful person you are today but none the less good luck levern and don't give up no matter who has your back..

      (14)(18)
      • You get what you deserve. Congratulations to Spenser. Keep making your country proud.

        (11)(0)
      • i am here to correct your ignorance

        i love that response...i know friends who made it out of lucia and personally raised their middle fingers at the same ones who keep begging them to do something back for the country...as if the country ever helped to push them forward in anything...the worst thing though is when u dont have a family name that can attract sponsorship or funding or whatever...u get no assistance from the govt...people only help u progress when u are near the finish line...because they see u are very close to being a winner...

        (7)(4)
      • True dis.. St,lucian has got a frame of mind that as a youth playing any sport is not the way, Education is... go lean maths and English. When I was young mother and school use to bit me because I had love football now am in a club in England paying me living wage which is still good. School and parenting don't enhance sports in st.lucia. even the little things can go a long way example., been a DJ, drawing, building ect,,,,,

        (6)(4)

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