Consider this. What are the odds of Saint Lucia obtaining a medal at the next Olympics? Let alone a gold medal at that? If you’re being honest, you may be within the lines of very slight to no chance. It’s usually the athletes themselves who are optimistic whenever the world’s most prestigious sporting event comes along, as we Saint Lucians never truly think they stand a chance. This week’s HYPE interviewee couldn’t care less about that, and is determined both to qualify and to medal for her country. In fact, Stephanie Devaux-Lovell is so determined, that she is willing to put a career on the back burner and concentrate on her objective.
“I sail for Saint Lucia in a single-handed boat, and I train in the Rodney Bay area. I started at 8 years old and I never really took it seriously–I just kind of did it for fun,” she began by telling us.
Stephanie went on: “When I was about 14, I got a wildcard qualification to the Inaugural Youth Olympics in Singapore. Ever since then, I loved [sailing] so much that I pretty much gave up all other sports I was doing–I was really into sport. Now I spend all my time and effort sailing and it has opened my eyes to what it’s really like to compete, and be able to show your love for your country”.
Stephanie says that she has travelled around the world, competing in international and regional events to represent Saint Lucia. “Now my goal is basically to reach the Olympics and maybe even one day get Saint Lucia its first gold medal,” she says.
The enthusiast turned competitor began sailing because of a friendly rivalry with her brother. “My brother started to learn to sail and he and I are very competitive, so if he did it I had to do it too, to prove I could be better at it than him,” she says with a chuckle. “But as soon as I started I fell in love with the sport,” she admits.
With sailing she says one can simply “getaway.” “You’re on the water by yourself or maybe with other boats. But it’s still just you. It’s you, the water, the wind, the waves and it’s just nice.”
Stephanie says that her free time is spent going to the gym, running and trying to keep fit. So far she has participated in the Youth Olympics in Singapore, the ISAF Youth Worlds two years ago in Dublin and last year in Cyprus, the Women’s World Championship and the Mediterranean Championship, events in Canada, and this year, the ISAF competition in January in Miami, which is a World Cup event.
In the Caribbean she has competed (and won) at home in the Saint Lucia National Dinghy Championships and in the annual regional regatta in Schoelcher, Martinique. She also skippered the winning J24 in the island’s inaugural Mango Bowl Regatta in 2012.
A second year student at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College ‘A’ Level Division, Stephanie is currently studying Chemistry, Biology and Geography. Prior to that she attended the Saint Joseph’s Convent.
Being that the sport of sailing is mainly associated with males, I was curious as to what Stephanie does when she is not riding the waves or keeping fit.
“When I’m not sailing I hang out with friends most of the time, I love going to the gym and the beach. I’ve always loved going to the beach, always! I used to play tennis, but I don’t anymore. I haven’t played in so long that I’m actually afraid that if I go back I may suck at it,” she says with a grin. “I also read a lot and watch a lot of TV,” Stephanie says.
I asked what her long term goal was in terms of her dream career. “I’m not really sure what I’m going to pursue when I’m done with competitive sailing, but i know it will have something to do with sports. It could be either sports medicine or sports management, something along the lines of sports,” she replied.
“I have a dream and I’m not going to let anything stand in my way. I’m going to do whatever it takes to get there. It’s where I want to be and it’s where I’m heading. And I think that’s how other people should live their lives, they shouldn’t be afraid to do things that they want to do because if you don’t try you’ll never succeed.
“So that’s pretty much it, fight for what you want,” she ended our interview by saying.