TEHEALIA Kennedy of Zenith Athletic Club in Tobago made a welcome return to competition at the National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) preparation meet at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo on Sunday.
After falling off circuit for several months owing to a non-sport related injury, women’s javelin thrower Kennedy was still able to launch the spear a distance of 37.25 metres at the meet. This was her personal best distance. She achieved the feat on the sixth and final throw.
The only other thrower on the day was Concorde’s Gianna Paul, who threw the implement 28.65m.
Although the 19-year old fell well short of the Pan Am Under-20 Championships qualification mark of 42.9m, she was pleased with her effort and believes Sunday’s performance is a step in the right direction towards her return to the competitive circuit.
“In preparation for this particular event today, I am satisfied because I endured a lot of obstacles since last year. I had a surgery last year and other challenges made me unable to get more time in with the javelin,” she said.
Even if she equalled or surpassed the qualification criteria, the Pan Am U20 Championships was postponed to next year, four days prior.
Undeterred, Kennedy wants to maintain a progressive momentum back to competition locally, and eventually, on the regional and international stage.
In 2017, Kennedy was named the best U16 female of Scarborough Secondary School at the Secondary Schools’ Track and Field Championships. That year, she also copped the Most Outstanding Field Athlete (female) award at the NAAA annual awards.
Partnered with her surgery, the pandemic also pushed back her plans to improve. But the youngster remains fixated on bouncing back to her best.
“I only recently started back training in April. I had fun today (Sunday). It’s just that things could have gone better but I’m thankful to participate besides all the challenges.
“From here, I head back to training to basically fix whatever I did wrong here today. I will go it over with my coach Wade Franklin in Tobago and we’ll go from there,” she added.
Kennedy wants to set a trend that TT women can also mirror the performances of two-time Olympic medallist Keshorn Walcott. “I began athletics when I was about eight years old. I’ve been into it since I was in primary school. I was an all-around athlete and used to do sprinting, long jump and other events.
“When I was in second or third form, I began to do javelin only. I want to be a leader in this sport locally but there’s a lot of work to be done,” Kennedy said. The field athlete is now back at home in Coral Gardens, Buccoo. She is now focusing on resuming intense training and soon enough, writing the SATs to secure admission into a US college.
Before Sunday’s meet, Kennedy’s last competition was at an NAAA developmental meet at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Tobago in March last year. Former athlete Geraldine George holds the national women’s javelin record of 54.1m which was achieved in Austin, Texts in 2000.