JAVELIN THROWER Nathaniel Mathura threw a personal best of 61.5 metres at the National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) preparation meet at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo on Sunday.
Ten days from now, he may throw even further. He’s peaking at the right time. However, owing to the postponement of the October 22-24 Pan American Under-20 Championships in Concepcion, Chile, the youngster will be unable to showcase his athletic prowess.
The 19-year-old had been training for the Championships for several months. At the two prior NAAA qualification meets in September, he threw the spear 57.25m in the first and then improved by over three metres with a 60.96m throw in the second.
He continued to show his best form on Sunday by bettering both distances and surpassing the U20 javelin standard of 59.48m for a second consecutive time.
Mathura’s efforts would have guaranteed him a spot on the national team for the first time in his athletic career but the pandemic situation in Chile forced the meet’s postponement. The U20 Championships was postponed, by a year, on Tuesday.
Mathura is hurt to miss out on his first chance to represent TT on the big stage. He would have also attained the Carifta Games qualification mark earlier this year, but similarly, that meet was also cancelled due to the pandemic.
“It’s truly disappointing because I was working really hard for it (U-20 qualification) for the whole year. This was my last year to make any junior national team. I was heartbroken when Carifta was cancelled so I began looking forward to compete in Chile.
“It was always my dream to represent TT. It felt like it was right there and that I could have grabbed out and reached but it just didn’t happen,” said Mathura after setting a new personal best.
The El Dorado East Secondary student is trained by Ismael Lopez Mastrapa, coach of two-time Olympic medallist Keshorn Walcott. He has been training with the Cuban coach for the past two years.
According to him, he has been throwing further distances of recent owing to Mastrapa’s training programme which would have allowed him to peak for the Under-20 Championships.
His constant improvement over the last three NAAA prep meets is evidence of his growth and Mathura thinks he would have even crossed the 65- metre mark in Chile if the event was not postponed.
Looking ahead, he seeks to move past this year’s heartbreak for a national team debut. Mathura is an Upper Six student and currently studies Tourism, Environmental Science, Sociology and Caribbean Studies.
“I’m just focusing on bettering myself and going to college abroad," Mathura said. "I want to get some more competitions in because competing every two to three months; it’s hard to elevate myself as an athlete. I want to go to college so i could get that experience to be a better javelin thrower.”
Mathura said working with Mastrapa has helped developed him into a better all-round field athlete. He sees Walcott as his inspiration to throw further and would like to be the next face of TT men’s javelin.
He spoke highly of the Cuba-born coach. “The potential he (Mastrapa) has to elevate an athlete is immense. I put my trust in him and do my best in training. I believe in my coach. He can take me places that I’d like to go,” Mathura said.
In 2022, the javelin thrower will move up to the Under-23 division. He is uncertain what competitions lie ahead next year but believes his time will come to suit up in national colours for the first time.
“I want to reach the 70m mark next year and maybe even qualify for the Paris 2024 Games. My journey is now starting. I will continue to train, focus, dedicate my efforts and trust my coach’s process,” he said.
At the third prep meet however, no other athletes were able to attain the Under-20 Pan Am standards.
Sunday's results –
U20 men's triple jump - 1.Lorenzo Luces (Toco Tafac) 14.47m
U20 men's 200m - 1.Kegel Chance (Zenith) 22.43s; 2.Kester Richards (Fulfilling Athletics) 22.51s; 3.Josiah Peters (Phoenix Athletics) 22.68s
U20 women's 200m - 1.Gianna Paul (Concorde) 26.43s; 2.Shanille Greene (Tobago Falcons) 28.77s
U20 men's discus - 1.Dennis Daniel (Tobago Select) 34.75m
U20 men’s javelin – 1.Nathaniel Mathura (El Do East) 61.5m
U20 women’s javelin – 1.Tehealia Kennedy (Zenith Tobago) 37.25m; 2.Gianna Paul (Concorde) 28.65m
U23 men's 110m hurdles - 1.Tyrese Rawlins (Neon Wolves) 15.28s
U23 men's 200m - 1.Zion Charles (Fulfilling Athetics) 23.04s; 2.Josiah Wilson (Cougars) 23.23s; 3.Jaden De Souza (Phoenix Athletics) 23.30s
U23 men’s discus 2kg – 1.Umar Sandy (Toco Tafac) 40.93m
U23 men’s 1500m – 1.Stephon Gould (RJR) 4:07.61
Decathlon - 1.Anson Moses 110m hurdles (15.63s); discus (34.18m); pole vault (2.8m); javelin (49.28m); 1500m (5:29.90)