AFTER NEW Mexico Junior College in the United States closed its doors to safeguard its student and staff population from the spread of covid19, track athlete Jalen Purcell was lucky enough to return home on March 22, the final day before TT closed its borders.
Four months later, the 21-year old 100-metre sprinter remains grounded in TT but intent on returning to New Mexico to resume his academic and athletic prowess. The fall semester is scheduled to begin on August 17 while team training resumes in early September.
Although the US continues to lead global statistics on confirmed, recovered and death cases due to coronavirus, Purcell is undeterred and ready to resume his hectic training regime as a sophomore.
Recently, Caribbean Airlines issued a notice to locally-based students who wish to return to the US to continue their academic pursuit. The airline advertised a specially approved flight from Trinidad to Miami, Florida and directed students to sign up for this service via an online platform by July 28.
Purcell grasped this golden opportunity, signed up and now awaits his departure date from the commercial airline.
“I emailed Caribbean Airlines and they responded saying the borders are closed and they were awaiting approval from the Ministry of National Security to give the green light. My application went through so I’m just waiting on the date to head back out. I’m eager to return to training after so much time lost due to the virus,” said Purcell.
The Gasparillo Secondary graduate added, “My goal is to go back out to train and focus on my schoolwork.”
When Purcell does in fact return to the US, he will have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine before heading back out to school. New Mexico Junior College has also implemented multiple precautionary restrictions for students on their return.
Student-athletes will be required to train in small groups of five and maintain the required physical distancing measures.
Well aware of the current state of affairs in the US, Purcell admitted his parents are a bit sceptical of his impending move to New Mexico.
“I am cautious because of the present health situation in the US during this time. Once I stick to their rules and regulations, everything should be ok. The school would conduct regular testing, isolating athletes during training and they’re very strict with their procedures. We should be training in small groups and on specific days,” said the Simplex Athletics athlete.
The 2015 and 2017 Carifta 4x100m silver medallist continued, “My parents are a bit reserved on my decision to return but I’m looking at it academically and through my sporting lens. I want to further my studies and next year is an Olympic year. I’ll have my chance to pick my major after this year and I’d like to pursue electrical engineering.”
Over the past four months, the track athlete was restricted to indoor physical training during April and May. He returned to outdoors training sessions in June and July when the Government's began to relax its stay at home measures.
Purcell also represented TT at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games, North American and Central American Championships and Atlanta Georgia Relays.