TOKYO, Japan – Devynne “Sonic” Charlton has had a resurgent year in athletics and given what transpired five years ago when she was unable to compete, she is focused and determined to have a strong showing at these Olympic Games here in Tokyo, Japan.
Charlton qualified for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics five years ago, but was forced to withdraw from competition due to a back injury she suffered in 2016, leading up to the Olympics.
Now, she is back at full strength and is ready to make an impact in Tokyo. Charlton and fellow Bahamian Pedrya Seymour will line up in the heats of the women’s 100 meters (m) hurdles on Saturday morning, Friday evening back in The Bahamas.
As for Charlton, sitting in the stands, she observed as Seymour broke her former national record of 12.70 seconds at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and then went on to finish sixth in the final. At those Olympics, Seymour set the national record at 12.64 seconds, and Charlton lowered it to 12.61 seconds this year. Now able to experience the Olympics as a competitor herself, Charlton is looking for a similar, if not more substantial, performance here in Tokyo.
“Right now I’m feeling a bit anxious and excited and I’m ready to get going,” she said. “Everything that is in place, I’m willing to do because for me, I’ve been waiting to be here for five years. I’m pretty confident as it stands now. A few years ago, I was at a low point, but now I’m focused and ready to go. I’m at a place where I know I could compete with these ladies. I feel like I’m in pretty good shape and able to go out there and run a fast time.”
At her two experiences at the world outdoor championships, Charlton’s best finish was a semifinal appearance in 2017 in London, England, at which time she finished 13th overall. This time, the 25-year-old Bahamian national record holder is prepared to go a step further.
“I was a lot younger back then so I was just happy to be there. I just wanted to get an opportunity to compete,” said Charlton. “Now, being a contender makes a lot of difference. My strategy is just to treat it like any other big meet. I just have to keep my emotions in check and get ready to run.”
Charlton and Seymour will be some of the first athletes in competition for The Bahamas in the athletics portion of the games as the heats of the women’s 100m hurdles are set for Saturday morning at 10:45 a.m. at the Japan National Stadium, 9:45 p.m. Friday night in The Bahamas. The semifinals will be held Sunday at 7:45 p.m., 6:45 a.m. in The Bahamas and the final will be held Monday at 11:50 a.m., 10:50 p.m. Sunday night in The Bahamas.
“I’m just ready to get out there and run. It’s usually where I have to wait for almost the entire program to be completed before I get a chance to run, but with the hurdles being held early, that would give me a chance to get it out of the way. I know that I could go out there and do what I need to do and get it over with. I’m really happy that it’s one of the first events on the schedule.”
As for the COVID-19 protocols here in Tokyo and what they have had to experience in the Olympic Village, Charlton said been it’s been a challenge and something she is not accustomed to, but added that the excitement is so high to compete, that she is more than willing to comply with what is required.
“Well we have to get tested every day,” said Charlton. “The saliva has to be tested and also we have to have this app on our phones that tracks our movement and health status. We have to take temperatures, sanitize and wear gloves at certain points. It’s just the little things that remind us that COVID is still out there and we have to be secured and protected and we certainly understand that.”
This might be her first Olympics in competition but Charlton said she is focused on the task at hand and is ready to go out there and make The Bahamas proud.
She’s not putting any limitations on herself, just prepared to give it her best effort and then accept the result. Charlton has a season’s and personal best run of 12.61 seconds, that broke Seymour’s national record of 12.64 seconds, at the USATF (USA Track & Field) Golden Games, in Walnut, California, in May.
That time would have been good enough for a medal at the last Olympics in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.