‘I’m here to work hard & make my country proud’ –Guyana’s newest student-athlete
By Ravin Singh
A leap of faith was what it took for one of Guyana’s most promising triple jumper, Domon Williams, to pursue his dreams of perfecting his athletic craft while continuing his academic journey.
“I shared a video of one of my jumps on Facebook hoping that my talent would be recognised and that an opportunity would be made available to me and that was exactly what happened,” an elated Williams told the News Room in a recent interview.
The video was recognised by one of the world’s most successful jumps coach, Kerry-Lee Ricketts, who is employed at the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Jamaica.
After reviewing his jumping history, Ricketts made representation to the UWI for Williams to be granted a student-athlete scholarship and was successful in his bid.
The National Sports Commission (NSC) has also chipped in to assist him in offsetting the cost of housing and meals – both of which are not provided for in the scholarship.
Director of Sport, Christopher Jones, has said that the NSC remains committed to supporting Guyanese athletes, and it will be no different for Williams.
“We see potential in him, and we are confident that he can make it to the Olympics next year so we are going to give him the support that he needs,” Jones told the News Room.
Williams will join Ricketts’ elite camp, which comprises athletes from more than seven different countries; and includes one of the world’s leading female triple jumper, Shanieka Ricketts, and several of Guyana’s national track and field stars.
“As it is, there is not a lot of technical issues in terms of his jumping technique. But in terms of his sprinting and his strength, there’s a lot of work to be done. Overall his jumping is about an eight out of ten. So what we’re targeting now is getting him quicker and a lot stronger,” Ricketts explained.
Williams is Guyana’s current National Long and Triple Jump Senior Champion and Trinidad and Tobago’s National Senior Triple Jump Champion. He is also the 2019 Inter-Services Annual Athletics Championships (ISAAC) Male Champion Athlete and ISAAC Triple Jump Record holder.
His personal best in the triple jump is 15.80m, while his long jump personal best is 7.51m.
In 2016, the athlete was also the National Triple Jump Champion, while the year prior he was the Hampton game Triple Jump Champion.
And Ricketts is confident that Williams will be clearing eight metres in the foreseeable future.
“When [Emmanuel] Archibald came here, he was jumping 7.2m and now he is [Guyana’s] national record holder with 8.08m and he is consistently jumping eight. Domon came here with a personal best of 7.5m, officially. So there’s no doubt he’s going to clear that eight metres hurdle,” the coach said.
Beyond clearing eight metres, the Ricketts fervently believes that Williams can qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
“People probably think we’re heading higher we can reach, but I can really see him qualifying for the Olympics next year,” he shared with the News Room.
Williams emerged from an area foreign to athletics in Guyana – Virginia Village in Cane Grove, Mahaica.
“Cane Grove is a beautiful place and I love it there, but it was extremely difficult living there and having to train in Georgetown. Many times I would question if it was worth travelling so far and then having to travel back after training… especially when you’re exhausted after training,” he revealed.
But the 23-year old shared that he was driven by a strong desire to maximise his potential, and contribute to the development of sports in Guyana.
“When Coach [Ricketts] contacted me, I was over the moon to be honest. I wasn’t just happy because I realised I’d be given an opportunity to develop myself athletically, but being able to study at UWI would allow me to contribute to the development of sports at home,” a hopeful Williams said.
Though he travelled to Jamaica last week, the athlete will begin pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Coaching, from September, at the newly-established Faculty of Sport at UWI.
And his commitment to his athletic aspirations is already manifesting. Less than eight hours after arriving on the island, Williams commenced training with his new coach.
“I have big dreams for myself. I want to represent Guyana on the biggest stage in athletics – Olympics – and be able to bring home a medal.
“But there is so much I have to learn and I know I’m in the right hands. Coach is phenomenal, not just when training but off of the track too. I can’t afford to let a day pass without making the most of what is being made available to me. So I’m here to work hard and eventually make my country proud,” he said.
Important to his success is his diet, which Williams admits is expensive to maintain.
“The diet of an athlete is expensive to maintain… right now that’s my only challenge, so I’m hoping the NSC and other agencies will continue to offer that much needed support,” the optimistic athlete disclosed.
He knows though that if consideration must be given for any person or entity to invest in him and his dreams, he must be producing results both on and off of the tracks.
And while he is utilising his opportunity to maximise his potential, he wants young athletes in Guyana to know that sports has much more to offer than just glory on the track.
“There’s a saying that ‘sports don’t carry you nowhere, especially in Guyana.’ But I’m testimony to the fact that vision, hard work, and dedication can take you places you didn’t even expect to go.
Let me say too that sports is not just what you see on the track or on the field. It is much more than that, and that is why I always encourage young people to play sports. It teaches you hard work and disciple in many ways; watching what you eat, how you socialize, when you sleep, commitment to training, all of that. Once you have mastered those things, then for sure, success will be within reach,” an experienced Williams offered.