St. Lucia may be a minnow in the track and field world, but the three athletes representing the the Helen of Islands boast world class pedigree. High jumper, Levern Spencer has been for more than a decade, the flag bearer for St. Lucia’s Athletics.
Since winning the country’s first ever global medal – bronze at the 2011 World Youth (Under 18) Championships – the 32 year old has competed at six World Championships (2005-2015) reaching the finals in 2007, 2013 and 2015. Spencer won the island’s first ever CAC Games gold medal in 2010 and retained her title in 2014 and then won her country’s first Pan Am Games title one year later in 2015.
In Rio, Spencer will be competing in her third Olympics and will is joined by fellow high jumper, Jeanelle Scheper, who at 22 years, is already among the world’s best. While still only 19 years, Scheper qualified for the 2013 World Championships and was seventh at the 2015 Champs with Spencer in 15th.
Former President of the St. Lucia Olympic Committee and now International Olympic Committee board member, David Peterkin, is quietly confident of Spencer and Scheper advancing to the finals. “We know our best chance is in the women’s high jump. My expectation is at minimum is that they make the finals. Based on performance for the year, Spencer has a strong chance in the finals. The dream is two St. Lucians in the finals.”
St. Lucia’s third representative is former NFL running back, Jahvid Best, who played for the Detroit Lions. Best competed in the men’s 100m heats on Saturday. He ran 10.39, well off his best of 10.16 and did not advance to the semi-finals. Peterkin said Best was a new find. “ Best is an interesting one. We didn’t know about him. He qualified for the men’s 100m running 10.16, in April. He knew he could not make the US team; he opted to compete for St. Lucia and because he never competed for the US the IAAF cleared him (for St. Lucia). The fact that you can qualify in the 100m, is an achievement.”
Spencer and Scheper will be action on Thursday as they compete in the women’s high jump qualifying round.
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Richard Peterkin is the IOC member, not his brother, my buddy David.