BY Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
With just three athletes, the team might be small, but is packing lots of history even though two athletes are making their Olympic Games debut in Tokyo.
Swimmer Elinah Phillip who will contest the 50m Free, will become just the seventh two times BVI Olympian, as her sport joins track and field and sailing to be represented at the Olympic Games more than once.
Track and Field debutants Kyron McMaster and Long Jumper Chantel Malone, are the highest ranked athletes in their respective events to represent the territory at the Olympic Games since the BVI began participating in 1984. McMaster’s 47.50 personal best is No 19 on the World Athletics All Time List in the 400m Hurdles, while Long Jumper Malone’s 7.08m (23’2¾”) is No 41 All Time.
Both McMaster and Malone have the No 4 marks in their respective events this season, entering Tokyo. McMaster and Phillip will be the flag bearers.
“The pandemic as well as personal obstacles has definitely made the qualification process and path to Tokyo more challenging,” Phillip noted. “These challenges led me to be out of the water and away from training for a total of eight months. After being unable to train for such a long period of time, I moved back to the US so I could get back into the water and get my fitness back up.”
Phillip, who will see competition on July 30, became the territory’s youngest Olympian in Rio 2016, goes into Tokyo with more experience under her belt, having been battle tested in collegiate competitions. Tokyo, she said, ‘feels more personal.’ “Over the past couple of years, I’ve overcome so much as well as gotten to know myself better,” she pointed out. “I think the nerves will probably set in closer to race day, but I’m for sure excited because my coach Brien Moffitt and I have been working really hard and I’m ready to give it my all as usual. My goal is to perform my very best and to just showcase the hard work we’ve been putting in.”
She said while her sport isn’t the most recognized or popular in the territory, she thanks everyone for their support on her journey. “Your support means more to me than I’m able to ever express,” she said. “Your support has made a remarkable difference in my journey, so thank you.”
Despite falling over the 10th hurdle in his Stockholm Diamond League race on Sunday, McMaster who will also face the starter’s gun on July 30, said he’s at the point where he needs to be, and he’s confident going into Tokyo.
“To be honest, my goal is just to make it through every round—make it out of the heat and semifinal with less energy,” he said. “Just to go out there, run confident, just be me, have fun, find myself within everybody and just go out there and focus on me and not everyone else in the field.”
McMaster encourages everyone to continue with their support because it doesn’t matter the race, he’s always trying to achieve a goal.
“The goal is always to finish healthy, finish strong and in the top three positions,” he pointed out. “My goal for the Olympics is to make it through every round using less energy and just attack the final. Whatever comes after that, comes. The beauty about it is, every time I go out on the track, I give 110%, so, regardless—win lose or draw, rainfall or sunshine—I give 110%.
Malone, who has become consistent as a 7.00m+ jumper, said her main focus has been to get faster, stronger and more technically sound as she prepares for Tokyo.
”It’s always been the focus but now it’s just laser focus,” said the Long Jumper who will cut the sand on Aug 1. “My goal for Tokyo is to bring home that gold. Honestly if I focus on executing, great things will happen.“
Like Phillip and McMaster, Malone thanked her supporters for the words of encouragement. “It means more to us than you know,” she pointed out. “I also want to encourage you guys to still continue to uplift us even when there’s hiccups along the way to our success. I don’t think people realize the amount of work, sweat, tears and sacrifice we put into our craft for a moment at the Olympics that lasts literally less than a minute or in my case, less than 10 seconds. We step on that track and give our best effort every time. I hope you see that and we make our country and supporters proud.”
Phillips joins Lindel “Chef” Hodge, Willis “Chucky” Todman, Keita Cline, Dr. Robin Tattersall, Robbie Hirst and Tahesia Harrigan-Scott, as BVI two times Olympians.
Shot Putter Eldred Henry, who also qualified for Tokyo, withdrew last week with an injury to his throwing hand. He debuted in Rio 2016.