The re­turn of Olympian Lev­ern Spencer

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By David Pas­cal

It was cer­tainly not a fan­fare home­com­ing. There was no mo­tor­cade and only a few school chil­dren to greet her. Nev­er­the­less Saint Lu­cia’s world-class high jumper Lev­ern Spencer was de­lighted to be back here fol­low­ing her ar­rival on Thurs­day af­ter­noon at He­wanorra In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

A wel­com­ing com­mit­tee in the VIP lounge in­cluded Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­tanet, Pres­i­dent of the St Lu­cia Olympic Inc, For­tuna Bel­rose and other of­fi­cials.

“It al­ways warms my heart with joy and pride when­ever I set foot on Saint Lu­cian soil at the end of my sea­son,” re­marked Spencer. “But this time around, af­ter what feels like the long­est sea­son of my en­tire ca­reer, I feel an even greater sense of sat­is­fac­tion to be back home in the land of my birth. As the old say­ing goes, and I have said time and time again, there is in­deed no place like home.”

Prime Min­is­ter Chas­tanet con­grat­u­lated Spencer on her suc­cess at the Olympics and other events. He con­sid­ered it a source of mo­ti­va­tion: “It should in­spire all Saint Lu­cians and show them we have the ca­pa­bil­ity of com­pet­ing against the best in the world, and not only just com­pet­ing, but in win­ning.”

The Prime Min­is­ter men­tioned his in­ten­tion to form a school of ex­cel­lence that all top ath­letes could at­tend. It would in­clude a dor­mi­tory for those who have to travel long dis­tances.

Chas­tanet told Spencer: “It is your suc­cess that in­spires us. The gra­cious­ness in which you con­duct your­self and the cover­age you give to Saint Lu­cia tells us that ath­let­ics is more than just about games; it is a way of life. There are in­cred­i­ble ben­e­fits to the des­ti­na­tion Saint Lu­cia in hav­ing suc­cess­ful ath­letes and so I think there is a great op­por­tu­nity and value here to share your story and let peo­ple know suc­cess does not come with­out hard work; it does not come with­out com­mit­ment. There is no­body there ex­cept you and those hours you put in dur­ing prac­tice that makes the dif­fer­ence. That’s the les­son I want ev­ery­one to know, that what pre­vents from suc­ceed­ing in many cases is our­selves, our fo­cus and our ded­i­ca­tion, and you have shown all of us that you are an in­spi­ra­tion. Thank you.”

There were also brief re­marks from IOC mem­ber Richard Peterkin; Spencer’s Lo­cal Man­ager, El­der Gre­gory Dixon; St Lu­cia Ath­let­ics As­so­ci­a­tion Rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Rena Sa­muel and Flow Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Deal­fina Jn Bap­tiste.

De­spite hav­ing had one of her most suc­cess­ful sea­sons, hav­ing ac­cu­mu­lated medals of ev­ery colour and plac­ing sec­ond in the Pres­ti­gious Di­a­mond League, one gets the feel­ing Spencer’s sixth place fin­ish at the Rio 2016 Olympics was not enough to sat­isfy Saint Lu­cians who hun­gered for bronze, sil­ver and even gold.

Spencer may have felt the weight of a na­tion on her shoul­der when she said: “I breathed a huge sigh of re­lief hav­ing fi­nally con­cluded what I can call a high pres­sured sea­son; a sea­son where the ex­pec­ta­tion of a na­tion was so great; a sit­u­a­tion that is only felt, known and un­der­stood by the in­di­vid­ual upon whom the ex­pec­ta­tions rest.”

She con­cluded her speech by thank­ing ev­ery­one for their sup­port through­out the year. She men­tioned the Gov­ern­ment and peo­ple of St Lu­cia and said, “It is the love and sup­port of many of my peo­ple that some­times carry me over the bar.”

The multi Sportswoman of the Year has since been busy: yes­ter­day she made a cour­tesy call on His Ex­cel­lency, Act­ing Gover­nor Gen­eral, McDon­ald Dixon. and an­other cour­tesy call on the Mayor of Cas­tries. Then it was off to an of­fi­cial lun­cheon at San­dals Re­gency.

To­day is dubbed “Meet the Cham­pion” at Con­sti­tu­tion Park, where Spencer will meet the pub­lic and sign au­to­graphs.

On Sun­day the Babon­neau Youth and Sports Coun­cil, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Spencer’s man­age­ment team, plans a mo­tor­cade and home-com­ing cer­e­mony be­gin­ning on the Ca­caco field at 1:00 pm. Af­ter that fans, friends and well­wish­ers will gather at the Good Shep­herd Church in cen­tral Babon­neau at 4:00 pm for an au­to­graph sign­ing ses­sion.

There’s more to come! From Septem­ber 27 to Oc­to­ber 6 is a Cham­pion Tour which in­volves Spencer vis­it­ing schools through­out the is­land. The se­ries of school tours ends at her Alma Mater, En­tre­pot Sec­ondary School where a plaque will be un­veiled in Spencer’s hon­our.

IOC mem­ber Richard Peterkin (left), Pres­i­dent of St Lu­cia Olympic Com­mit­tee Inc For­tuna Bel­rose (sec­ond left), and Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­tanet (right) were among the spe­cial guests wel­com­ing home Lev­ern Spencer, three-time Olympian.

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