Several elite athletes including Sportswoman of the Year, Makeba Alcide, competed at the National Individual Track and Field Championships over the weekend at the George Odlum Stadium/Hospital in Vieux Fort.
The competition provided a rare opportunity for St Lucians to see up close and personal, two of St Lucia’s premiere athletes butt heads in competition. However it was an opportunity many St Lucians foolishly passed up on.
Going up against each other in the ladies high jump competition was world ranked and two time Olympian Levern Spencer and Junior Sportswoman of the Year Jeannelle Scheper, who has quickly established herself as one of the top collegiate female high jumpers in the USA.
Can anyone recall when Spencer who is a multi-Sportswoman of the Year, lost a high jump event on home soil? That never happened right? Wrong! It happened on Sunday when Scheper defeated her rival. The winning height was 1.92 m which both ladies cleared, however Scheper was awarded first place on fewer attempts at that height.
Scheper, who attends the University of South Carolina said: “I feel I succeeded in what I wanted to do today. I was injury free and felt good. I have some good news to
bring back to my coach. We can go on from here and start preparing for other meets internationally and at the collegiate level.”
If there is a bitter rivalry between Spencer and her heir apparent it certainly isn’t evident. Here’s Scheper’s take on things. “I think Levern and I are friends. We like to compete against each other. It is not too intense or anything like that. We compete for the same flag.”
For her part, Spencer, who was thrilled to be back on home turf said: “There are not too many times I get to compete in St Lucia. I know most times they see me is on television or just hear the results. When I knew nationals was coming, I looked forward to St Lucians watching me jump in person. I wanted to go out there have fun and give my best.”
For a while Spencer had no local competition, but things have changed since the emergence of Scheper. She welcomes the competition and said: “It is always fun jumping against another St Lucian, because sometimes when competing I am always by myself. Having someone else there with me provides motivation because we always push each other.”
One of the highlights of the two day competition came in pole vault, where Rick Valcin soared to new heights. He cleared 5.20 m which is a personal best.
Commenting on his performance Valcin said: “I came into nationals confident. I have been in great shape all year and just wanted to come out here and execute. I did a personal best and feel very proud of that.”
Performances by Scheper, Spencer and Valcin were just the tip of the iceberg at the 2014 Individual Track and Field Championships. There were other outstanding performances which will be highlighted in Wednesday’s Star newspaper.