By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Kyron McMaster closed his season by repeating as NACAC 400m Hurdles champion, when he ran the second fastest time of his career in Freeport, Bahamas and improved his own meet record of 48.18 seconds, after stopping the clock at 47.34. That came after becoming only the second repeat Commonwealth Games titlist in the event since 1930, joining Australia’s Ken Roche who pulled off the feat in 1962 and 1966.
In Track Town USA, Eugene Oregon in July, McMaster was unable to go after a coveted World Athletics Championships prize, when he pulled out of the semis with a hamstring injury. Unlike his rivals, he didn’t have a dedicated therapist—massage or physio—to work with, but had to rely on someone else, whenever they finished their duties with another country, a position the eight fastest 400m Hurdler in the history of the event All Time with his 47.08 seconds best, should not be in.
McMaster compares the stress he puts his body through with someone doing construction work for the first time, working long hours lifting blocks, sifting sand, mixing sand and when you go home you’re mashed up and tired. Imagine feeling like that every day he added, noting day in day, out, you’re beating your body up like that. If you don’t have somebody there to maintain your body, either you’re gonna burst or drop dead, he said.
“That’s been happening to me for quite some time now but I don’t really complain. I do what I have to do, put the legs up and let the blood run,” he told Island Sun Sports during an exclusive interview on his recent home visit. “But, a therapist is one of the most essential persons—not just in track and field—in sports in general. Personally, I would pay my therapist more money than I’m making because that person is making sure that my body is in the position to win. You have to take care of the people around you and put them in a position where they can solely deal with you. I’m a firm believer in that—putting them in a position where it benefits you.”
McMaster added: “You can’t have a therapist on your team but he’s not legit where you pay him a little change, he’s not going to take his job seriously. You need somebody who doesn’t look at you just as the next athlete—you need somebody who looks at you as the next world record holder—so for me, having a therapist is like having a parent. You need that structure in your life.”
On the Sports Beat Magazine program on CBN 90.9 FM, Massage Therapist Levi James who has worked with BVI athletes in different sports, said persons in charge must buy in to having the requisite athlete services.
“We’re left to wonder how greatness can be expected without the support for greatness to be achieved,” he said. “You expect Kyron to run 46.5. You expect Chantel (Malone) to jump 7.16m (23’6”), but then they need that help,” James explained. “It’s almost like you’re sending your car to the track without a mechanic, to make sure everything is always in tip top shape. Until the people who are responsible to put people like us in those places, realizing the importance, we’ll continue to suffer, and in some cases, waste supreme talent, because of a lack of support.”
Also a Sports Beat Magazine guest, Kinesiologist and athletic therapy trainer Shaun Williams—who has also worked with BVI athletes—explained that between rounds of competition, besides a recovery massage, the time is used to do a mental and physical assessment of the athlete.
“As therapists, we have to be able to give them a recovery massage and a pre-race massage—which are two totally different massages,” he pointed out. “And also take them through a range of motion, depending on the event they’re doing.”
Courtney Bascombe, another program guest and physio who has worked with Trinidad and Tobago athletes, said when athletes compete, they’re competing at their best and when they run as hard as they can, there might be muscle discomfort and a lactic acid build up.
“If that stays there, you cannot go and run another round and expect the same high performance all the time, so it’s important to get that therapy,” he said. “These things are very technical and are key on that day, in terms of performance. It’s key to performance.”