Local professional athlete and former SWOSU softball speed and conditioning coach Deborah John’s dreams of competing in the Olympics have been postponed — for now.
John was training in San Antonio for the 100-meter hurdles when everything was cancelled, shut down or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I spoke to my coach and the options were to either forego the Olympics totally or continue to train here for the Olympics,” she said. “So I’m still training, getting prepared and keeping my fingers crossed everything will go well.”
John was scheduled to fly to her home country of Trinidad and Tobago, who she wants to represent during the Olympics, for tryouts but plans have been postponed indefinitely. Right now, the Olympics are scheduled for July 2021, but Japan may refuse to host the games until COVID-19 is more under control and a vaccine has been developed.
“Competing in the Olympics has been a life-long dream of mine,” she said.
John moved to the United States in 2009, where she attended North Dakota State University on an athletic scholarship. Her track and field coach encouraged her to try out for the heptathlon which includes the high jump, long jump, shot put, javelin throw, 200-meter dash, 800-meter dash and the 100-meter hurdles.
It’s a bit scary at first, but once you get past the fear of running at something and jumping over it, it’s fine,” she said. “When I started, I wasn’t very good at first, but I trained hard, got better, broke the school record and went to nationals.”
During her track and field career at North Dakota State, John made and still holds the school record for the 60-meter hurdles, 100-meter hurdles and 4x100-meter relay events.
After college, she continued to compete as a professional athlete for Trinidad and Tobago. She also is a four-time 100-meter hurdles national champion for her home country.
John later came to work at SWOSU as the speed and conditioning coach for the softball team.
She has tried out for the Olympics in the past, but missed the mark by fractions of a second, so this year she really is pushing herself during training.
John said once everything opened back up, she had to re-start training from the beginning. However, she is taking this time to sharpen some skills and movements before tryouts.
“We are trying to see this from a positive perspective instead of being down about it,” she said. “We are using this time to the best of our ability so we are more prepared for next year.”