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Sands looking to qualify for fifth Olympics

Bahamian triple jump legend “Superman” Leevan Sands is looking to participate in his fifth straight Summer Olympic Games next year in Tokyo, Japan. The Olympics, which was initially set for this summer, will now be held July 23 to August 8, 2021, in Tokyo.

The former Olympic bronze medalist in the triple jump said it is a blessing in disguise that he has another year to get ready to qualify for the meet.

“I started doing the coaching thing and training at the same time,” Sands said. “I think it messed up my schedule a little bit because I have to make sure the kids are ready to go and ready to compete for the university. Now, I can prepare better. I was still in good shape because I was able to jump with the kids being there and it is a different feeling now because I started to get that feedback because people are actually there. I have an audience now and I jump better when I have eyes on me. We push each other.”

Sands won the bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, when he leapt for 17.59 meters (m) – 57’ 8-1/2” for a new Bahamian national record in that event. That jump has him listed in a four-way tie for number 43 on the world’s all-time list.

Sands just wrapped up his first year as an assistant coach at the University of Northern Colorado. His coaching is focused on the long, triple and high jumps disciplines. One of his jumpers, Tyler Thimsen, made history as he won the highest medal, a silver, in the triple jump in the program’s history at the Big Sky Conference Indoor Championships. Sands recently helped recruit two Bahamians to the program – Wendira Moss and Craiesha Johnson.

He said he was looking forward to taking part in a few meets in Colorado prior to the Olympics being postponed. He has also planned on taking part in some other meets before coming home and participating in the nationals which was set to be an Olympic qualifier. However, those plans had to be changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The national record holder in the triple jump said that he has been keeping in shape during the pandemic despite being unable to go to the gyms, which have been closed.

“I have been staying in shape. I was gearing up for Tokyo,” he said. “I made up my mind that I was going to try for my fifth Olympics. I have been staying in shape. I have been doing my everyday regiment. I have not been able to lift much weights because of the gyms being closed but I use what I have. I had to improvise.”

In February, Sands lost his father, Leevan Sands Sr., and stated that it lit more fire under him and his sister Bria Sands to qualify for the Olympics. He said he is still getting over the loss. His sister Bria competes in the long and triple jump events.

“It is hard, especially when you had a daddy who been there from day one – who always had your back and believed in you and always motivates you when so many people gave up on you. They will see the ‘crazy’ Leevan again. When you see me you will see fire so I will be a ‘crazy’ person again. I know he wanted me and my sister Bria to compete and qualify for the same Olympics at the same time. She is training hard herself and I encourage her. She trains with Nyles Stuart and he is doing a good job with her and she is definitely on track to qualify,” Sands said.

Sands ruptured his patellar tendon at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, England. Despite the injury, he still managed to finish fifth overall. Four years later, Sands was back on the Olympic stage, competing in the men’s triple jump at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. He recorded a best jump of 16.53m (54’ 2-3/4”), just failing to make the final.

His first Olympic appearance was at the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.

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Simba French

Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas. Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism

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