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Injured John keeps faith with red, white and black

Published: 
Thursday, August 17, 2017
T&T’s Deborah John, right, falls during a women’s 100m hurdles heat at the 2017 World Athletics Championships in London. John suffered several injuries including muscle strains in her left leg. PHOTO: AP

While T&T fetes our freshly minted gold medal 4x400 metre men’s World Championship relay team of Lalonde Gordon, Machel Cedenio, Jarrin Solomon and Jereem Richards, who is also the men’s 200 metre bronze medallist; we cannot ignore their constant cries for help and support which some continued to make even as the games were in progress in London, England over the last two weeks.

Jereem himself echoed the call upon returning to a VIP welcome home ceremony on Monday, pleading for sold out crowds to witness he and his fellow athletes perform, good, bad or indifferent. But on the other end of the spectrum one voice makes a different appeal, one which has regularly come from her colleagues and counterparts, but which is all too often muted.

Deborah John, the women’s 100 metre hurdler, who debuted at her first World Championships, suffered a horrific fall while going over the fifth hurdle during the heats on Day 8. She suffered several injuries including whiplash, muscular strains to her quad and hamstring on her left leg as well as a sprained shoulder and right thumb. She has since returned to her base in Auburn, Alabama, USA, where she resides.

“Right now I’m in recovery and rehabilitation and I haven’t started going for medical treatment because when I left the championship in England, I was told by another doctor, not part of the T&T medical staff, to take about 10 days off to give the muscles some time to start the healing process,” John explained in a phone interview with Guardian Media Sports.

The four-time national champion in the women’s high hurdles added: “One thing I would like to mention is that no one from the athletic association or federation has since contacted me to offer any financial assistance to aid in the recovery process. I haven’t gotten funding since 2015, so all the expenses that I incur is all on my own. I am shocked that no one has reached out to me as yet. I am still waiting to see if anyone would say if there is any kind of system in place to provide assistance for an athlete who goes out there and represents Trinidad and Tobago and gets injured in the process.”

The former Tunapuna Secondary School student’s attempt to script a World Championship fairy tale started when she received a wild card entry to the event three weeks ago. She did not attain a qualifying standard for automatic qualification but was allowed to participate late as one of the fastest athletes for the year, clocking 13.10 seconds one day before the cut off date for IAAF World Championships entrants.

“I was excited when I received the call from Trinidad so I just continued training to prepare myself as best as possible. There were some delays with obtaining my ticket to fly to London because I was called so late and that was pretty stressful. But once I got there I took my mind off of that.”

Then came the morning of her event. John stated that she had done her best to prepare and focus on the task at hand, but things went from bad to worse as her dream was about to quickly turn sour for the holder of a degree in Business Management with a minor in psychology who has moved from sprints, to the heptathlon and then to the sprint hurdles and was competing in her first global meet.

The 27-year-old former North Dakota State All-American said, while she has concerns about her health and recovery, she hopes to once again get the chance to wear national colours, which she has done since she was a teenager, representing T&T at the Carifta Games, Pan American Junior Games and the Commonwealth Games before the World Championships.

“I see it as a stepping stone. I do the hurdles so I try to use that event and relate it to my real life experiences by clearing every obstacle that comes my way. Due to the injuries that I have sustained from the fall, the only concern I do have is that, if it does not heal properly and I don’t get assistance to do proper rehabilitation, it may lead to recurring or chronic injuries which might be a setback for me come next season,” she concluded.