After an almost two-month-long layoff, Bahamian jumpers are back in action, training with the use of the jumping pit and bed over at the original Thomas A. Robinson Track and Field Stadium.
A few Olympic hopefuls and elite athletes were out on Tuesday, putting in work with Leap of Faith Head Coach James Rolle.
Charisma Taylor is one of the top female jumpers in The Bahamas today. She attends Washington State University and has made great strides in her performances since entering the college ranks. She said she was relieved to be back in action.
“When they finally opened the track, I was relieved that, first of all, I could get out of the house and second, I could train with my coach. Being out here to train with Coach James is good for me because I’m getting stronger and I’m getting better in my technique. I feel like it was a good thing for them to open up the track, so that athletes like us can come out and improve their craft,” Taylor said. She wants to make the 2021 Olympic Summer Games team, but for now, is focusing on training and getting better.
“The Olympics has always been in my sights from I was a little girl,” Taylor said. “For it to actually kind of be a reality for me in a sense is overwhelming. What I’m focusing on right now is just being committed to training and just improving myself in any way that I can.”
Taylor, a sophomore, was able to qualify in the women’s triple jump for the 2020 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I (DI) Indoor Track and Field Championships. However, that event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She said she was heartbroken but will train even harder for next season.
Kaiwan Culmer, a former University of Nebraska jumper, is happy that he and his club teammates have resumed training.
“It’s a good opportunity. It means a lot to us. At the beginning of the year, we were having a good season and we wanted to use this season to put down a foundation, so we can get some type of assistance, monetary funds for next year. So, them giving us the opportunity to do that, gives us a head start… Some of us who just finished college or some of us who just here training could get an opportunity to improve,” Culmer said.
In his final year at Nebraska, in 2018, Culmer set a new school record outdoors in the men’s triple jump with a leap of 16.52 meters (m) – 54’ 2-1/2”. He said returning to training was difficult, as Rolle gave them a hard workout on the first day. However, from that first day back to now, he said they are on track.
“We are there. We’re catching up fast because although the break was a detriment, we still got necessary rest,” he said. “We got the rest that we needed for our bodies to recover, so we could come back and hit it again. So, during the season, we might have been fatigued, some of us might have had injuries, but coming back here, everybody is refreshed, muscles working, no injuries,” he said.
Celine Thompson is expected to graduate this summer with a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Miami. The senior said it is good to be back at jumping.
“It’s very hard when you’re put out of your normal routine because I was home for like a month or two, not being able to practice,” she said. “I was doing what I was able to at home, trying to juggle that with the rest of the classes that I had to complete online. It was not easy, so just to be able to come back out, just to get into the regular workouts, is good. It has been kind of difficult because all that work that you put in, in the offseason, you’re now kind of out of shape, so you’re trying to get back to where you were.”
Thompson said that working out at home helped her to easily transition back into training.
Like most college track and field athletes, her season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, she was able to record a personal best in the women’s high jump indoors. Thompson plans to further her studies soon.
Competitively, she finished with a personal best mark of 1.75m (5’ 9”) this past indoor season.
For Holland Martin, the opportunity to be back at jumping is a great one.
“It’s a great feeling to get back on track and get back in training and to jump. I love jumping and it feels great to get back out here, to be able to train, see my teammates and have fun,” Martin said. “About two weeks ago, I would say I was at about 60 to 65 percent. Within the two weeks that we have been back, I can say that I am not far from 100 percent. I am not 100 percent yet, so there’s a lot more that I still have to put in. There’s a lot more that I still have to work on – stuff that I was working on before the pandemic came around. We just started from where we stopped,” he added.
Martin captured a bronze medal in the long jump at the 2017 Pan American Under-20 (U20) Championships in Trujillo, Peru. That same year, he won a silver medal in the under-20 boys long jump at the CARIFTA Games.
Martin has his eyes set on qualifying for the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. He said he is on track to make The Bahamas’ team for that grand event.