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Charlton staying positive in the face of COVID-19

Bahamian hurdler Devynne Charlton remains focused on qualifying for the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. She trains in Lexington, Kentucky under the watchful eyes of Bahamian collegiate coach Rolando Greene.

April 30, 2020

Sheldon Longley

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One of the country’s premier hurdlers, the first Bahamian female to qualify in any hurdles event for the world championships, said she is just taking everything in stride in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, and looking to get back on the track as soon as possible.

Devynne Charlton, who competed in both the 2015 and 2017 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships, and qualified for the 2016 Olympics in the women’s 100 meters (m) hurdles, is trying to maintain fitness despite the restrictions on sporting events and training worldwide due to the presence of COVID-19.

Like her athletic peers around the globe, Charlton is in limbo. Gyms, tracks and training venues have been shut down and closed worldwide. Luckily for Charlton, the 24-year-old speedster still has access to a private venue where she could get in some strength training and maintain fitness.

She lives and trains out of Lexington, Kentucky.

“Well, we’ve scaled back on the training – a lot of facilities are closed down so it’s hard to find somewhere to train,” she said. “I’m just trying to stay in shape as best as I can for when we get the ‘all clear’ sign to go back to training. I’m not too sure what is going to happen with the rest of the season but I’ll be ready when the time comes. For now, it’s kind of up in the air. There are no definite answers.”

Puma athlete Charlton, who works out with coaches Rolando Greene and Tim Hall in Lexington, said she’s a bit disappointed with the Olympics being pushed to 2021; but added that she remains optimistic. She was unable to get her outdoor season underway before the COVID-19 restrictions came into effect. Charlton has lifetime bests of 11.22 seconds in the 100m, 23.61 seconds in the 200m and 12.70 seconds in the 100m hurdles, and is ranked at number 62 in the world in the 100m hurdles.

“The Olympics being postponed was definitely disappointing because I felt like training was going really well and that I was going to be in pretty good shape for the competition ahead, but having it pushed back might be a blessing in disguise because last year wasn’t the greatest for me and having this extra year to prepare could really do me some good,” she said. “I’m still looking forward to qualifying. My goals remain the same. The world indoor championships are coming up and then there is the Olympics after that and I’m focused on both.”

Charlton missed the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016, with a back injury, but returned the following year and qualified for the London World Championships, where she finished 13th overall in the 100m hurdles.

“In 2016, it was really hurtful at the time, and now having to wait another year for my Olympic debut is a bit frustrating, but I’m ready to go out there and show off what I felt I could have done four years ago,” she said. “When the time rolls around, I’ll be able to show up when it matters.”

With COVID-19 taking aim, the Olympic qualifying period has been suspended for now, but it will resume on December 1, 2020. The new start date for the Olympics is July 23, 2021 and it will run until August 8, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. The World Athletics (WA) World Indoor Championships, formerly the IAAF World Indoor Championships, is also set for 2021. Charlton, who followed Bahamian coach Greene to Kentucky, said she is looking forward to the extended workout once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. For now, she is doing light lifting – staying strong, jogging and doing wind sprints whenever she gets a chance.

“I thrive off an extended workload – that reminds me a lot of a collegiate season where you compete indoors, take a break and you get right back into it,” said Charlton. “My coaches know exactly how to plan ahead for that type of thing, to make sure that I peak at the right moment and perform when it really matters.”

She said she still undergoes a full weight program, running hills and a lot of volume work despite the restrictions.

“I’m just trying to stay in shape and will do in-season workouts when I get back on the track,” she said. “Pretty much everything I need to get done strength-wise, I could get done.”

Charlton will return to West Lafayette, Indiana, next month, graduating from Purdue University where she had a stellar collegiate career with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Fisheries and Aquatic Science. Health-wise, she said she feels good and is fully recovered after nursing a minor hamstring injury early in the season. Charlton said she is just trying to stay safe and secured through this period and is encouraging her fellow Bahamian athletes, and Bahamians in general, to do the same.

“It’s disappointing, but we have to do what we have to do. This is about staying safe and saving lives. Hopefully, this will be over soon and when it is, I know that the Bahamian athletes will show up,” she said.

The Bahamian Olympian had a disappointing 2019 season but is looking to bounce back strong. She said she’ll be ready to go if the athletic season resumes this year, and is anticipating a huge year in 2021.

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