#By BRENT STUBBS
#Senior Sports Reporter
#WITH the 2020 Olympic Games postponed and a new date now set for around the same time in 2021, Devynne Charlton said it works better for her in terms of getting a chance to qualify to compete for the Bahamas in the women’s 100 metres hurdles for the first time.
#Charlton, who had qualified for the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but was forced to shut down her season because of an injury, said changing the games from July 24 to August 9, 2020 to July 23 to August 8, 2021 is a blessing in disguise for her.
#“I was a little disappointed at first when I got the news because I was training so hard and I wanted to see how I would do this year,” Charlton said.
#“But I think it’s a blessing in disguise since I had such an off year last year and I wanted to get back into it. I think pushing it back one year would give me more time to prepare.”
#Since graduating and completing her eligibility at Purdue University, Charlton moved to Lexington, Kentucky, last year to train with her former coach Rolando ‘Lonnie’ Greene when he took over as the new head coach at the University of Kentucky.
#However, as a result of the spread of the COVID-19 Pandemic that has forced the closure of schools and their facilities, including the University of Kentucky, Charlton was able to move to Atlanta, Georgia, to stay with a friend to continue her training.
#“I’m pretty optimistic going forward,” said Charlton after she completed a workout yesterday in a private gym in Atlanta.
#“I think it worked out better for me. It wasn’t too much of a transition because I am still able to get pretty much everything done that I needed to. So it wasn’t too much of a disruption.”
#While there are some concerns about how widespread the coronavirus is, Charlton said she’s staying in the suburbs of Atlanta and they have not been forced into a lockdown situation yet, but they are still practicing all of the safety measures.
#“I go to train and I go back home,” she stated.
#“The only other time I go out is if I need to purchase things that I need. I also practice the safety precautions, washing my hands and following all of the directives.”
#Since missing the 2016 Olympics, Charlton returned in 2017 to compete at the 2017 World Championships in London, England, where she got to the semi-finals of the women’s 100m hurdles. It was her second trip to the sports’ biggest individual competition, having made her debut in 2015 in Beijing, China, only to compete in the preliminaries.
#In 2018, she contested her first global final in the 60m hurdles with an eighth place finish at the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, United Kingdom. She finished the year with a fifth place in the 100m hurdles final at the NACAC Championships in Toronto, Canada.
#Last year, the former national record holder represented the country at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru with 10th place overall in the 200m hurdles.
#Charlton, 24, has not yet qualified for the 2020 Olympics. She has posted a lifetime best of 12.74 seconds and would have needed to run at least 12.84 to join national record holder Pedrya Seymour, who had already attained the standard.
#The good news, according to Bahamas Olympic Committee President Romell ‘Fish’ Knowles, is that having a date set for the Olympics bodes well for the athletes to properly prepare themselves for the Games, especially for those like Charlton, who were on the borderline of qualifying.
#“It’s fantastic news because the athletes can begin planning their training regime,” Knowles said. “From an administrative point of view, we now have an idea of when the games are set, so we can complete all of the timelines to start resuming for Tokyo.”
#With just athletes from track and field qualified so far for Team Bahamas, Knowles said the BOC is hoping that the new date will allow for more athletes in the other disciplines like judo, swimming and boxing, to attain their respective standards.
#“Our ambition to have more athletes from the different federations compete at the Olympic Games is always at the forefront of what we do in the Olympic Committee,” Knowles said.
#“That thrust will continue as we try to find ways for the smaller sports associations and federations to take advantage of every opportunity to put their athletes in the best position to qualify for the games.”
#Knowles said they also want to encourage the core sporting bodies to ensure that their athletes continue to stay on the cutting edge in the use of whatever facilities they have access to so that they can be in the best position to be ready to train when the curfews here at home and in the United States of America are lifted.
#“We are on the cuff of having a competitor qualify for judo and we are waiting on the new date for the qualification for boxing, so we will keep the momentum up and keep the athletes enthused when those qualifying dates are announced so that they can be able to represent the country,” he stated.
#With these being unchartered waters where the games have never been delayed from one year to the next, Knowles said it’s going to take a consolidated effort within their fraternity and the local Olympic movement because they will have to deal with a worldwide economic depression.
#“We want to thank the Tokyo Organising Committee for taking the steps to delay the games because we feel that it’s in the best interest of all concerned,” he said. “But with a new date in place, we can all focus on ensuring that we are ready when the games are held in 2021.”
#Charlton, who has also produced personal best times of 11.31 seconds in the 100m and 23.76 in the 200, is hoping that she can also assist the Bahamas in regaining its position as one of the powerhouses at the games by running a leg on the women’s 4 x 100m relay team.