Bahamian jumper receives sponsorship from Arawak Homes
Every young athlete has a dream of competing in the Olympic Games at least once in his or her lifetime, but as time goes on, that dream can slip away as they take on responsibilities, especially after completing tertiary level education. They can be forced to choose between that dream and professional opportunities in the workplace.
One of those athletes is Bahamian horizontal jumper Kaiwan Culmer. He was faced with that decision, and with his resignation letter in hand, he alerted his boss who in turn gave him back the resignation letter and offered to have the company, Arawak Homes, sponsor him on his 2024 Summer Olympic Games journey to Paris, France, with a leave of absence.
The announcement was made at a press conference held at Sunshine House on Shirley Street yesterday – the official office building of Arawak Homes.
Culmer, who works at Arawak Homes as a site manager, said he is thankful for the opportunity and for those who helped to get him to this point.
“I am grateful for this opportunity from Franon Wilson at Arawak Homes, the Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) and the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA),” said Culmer. “I thank God for giving me this opportunity. I do not take it for granted in any way. It speaks to the hard work that I have put in, but it is not me, it is God who has created this opportunity. I thank my parents for being there for me since I started doing track and field at the age of five, running track and competing in the field events.”
President of Arawak Homes Wilson said after Culmer came to resign he met with the team at Arawak Homes to see how best they could help Culmer on his Olympic journey and they decided to sponsor him. Wilson said he told Culmer that he did not have to resign but instead, they would put him on a leave of absence and he can come back after he trains and competes.
“This was a complete team effort to get to this point and I want to thank everyone in the construction department, and who will be there in Culmer’s absence, as he does his best to represent our country do even more. That is a commitment that our company and the people in his department have made to support him in his initiative and effort. We believe in national development,” Wilson said.
Culmer will be heading to Tallahassee, Florida, where he will be coached by national record holder in the men’s triple jump ‘Superman’ Leevan Sands who is currently coaching jumps at Florida State University (FSU), and has a stable of professional athletes under his wing as well. Sands will assist Culmer in attaining that 17.22 meters (m) effort, 56’ 6”, that is needed to automatically qualify for the Olympics in the men’s triple jump. Culmer has a personal best jump of 16.52m (54’ 2-1/2”) that he did back in June 2018. With him focusing on preparing for the Olympics, he knows that first, he must become the seventh Bahamian to leap over 17 meters (55’ 9-1/4”) in the men’s triple jump. The field includes Sands, Frank Rutherford, Wendell Lawrence, Latario Collie-Minns, Steve Hanna and Norbert Elliott.
“This past year, I was faced with having to balance work with my personal projects, working with Arawak Homes and being a full-time track and field athlete. I consider myself a very hard training man. Mentally, I am always at it and have to be on the go but what I was faced with was, my mind was so strong, but my body would be tired. My mind would tell my body that it is not tired but regardless, when I train, I told myself that I was not 100 percent fresh. The same challenge that I was faced with in my freshman year in college to my sophomore year when I went from 14 meters to 16 meters in one year was that I needed a change. I am thinking of putting myself in a better position so that I can go from 16 meters to 17 meters to make the Olympic team. To do that, I had to drop some of the load that I am carrying so I took a step of faith,” Culmer said.
His decision to be in Sands’ camp was a no-brainer, he said. Presently, he is coached by renowned triple jumps coach Peter Pratt, who also coached Sands.
“Sands was a mentor to me since I was around 16 years old whether it was through situations of me going to meets or whether I needed words of encouragement or not,” said Culmer. “When I looked at places to go and train, I saw many individuals of different nationalities who had camps set up. I just thought why wouldn’t it be best to go under a national hero of our country who has already done it? He has put his body under a lot of stress to get to an extraordinary level and he is someone who I have looked up to all my life. It’s great to have someone who we can trust and go to if I need a Thanksgiving meal or when I decide to stay back for Christmas and have a house and have a family around. It was a clear as day decision. My triple jumps coach Peter Pratt coached Sands and I asked him for advice,” he added.
Recently re-elected president of the BOC Romell ‘Fish’ Knowles said that it is a great opportunity for Culmer and hopes that other companies step up.
“What a dedication by Kaiwan who was ready to quit his job in order to participate to represent The Bahamas at the Olympic Games. These are the types of sacrifices that athletes are called on to do when it comes to representing their country. Arawak Homes’ social responsibility speaks volumes in a corporate world. I wish other companies will join the likes of Arawak Homes and make similar contributions,” Knowles said.
President of the BAAA Drumeco Archer spoke about Culmer’s dedication.
“It was probably one of the most heart-wrenching experiences for me when this year, all year round, he and I talked about making the world championships team, but sadly, he did not make the team. It is a testament to the perseverance and tenacity of someone who says, ‘I will soldier on’,” Archer said.
The former All-American athlete at the University of Nebraska has worked on being faster on the runway this past season, working with a sprints coach to help him attain a qualifying standard for a major meet.
“It is right there. I have some things that I must work on. This year, I took significant strides to where I took on a full-time sprints coach in Demarius Cash who worked with me in getting faster. If you want to jump far you must run so fast and Cash was amazing in getting my speed up to the level to where I need to be at on the triple jumps runway. I was faced with approach problems because when I got my personal best it was at a certain speed, but I got so much faster and this year when I came down the runway, it was a timing issue that I was faced with. The targeted distance does not phase me, so I must have the same dedication and get that distance in practice,” Culmer said.
The aspiring Olympian leaves The Bahamas tomorrow for Tallahassee, Florida to continue his journey to have his Olympic dream become a reality.