Number 854 • Friday, March 11, 2011

Canadian National Team Athletes Train at SKN Facilities
By Enver Pemberton
Garfield Crooks, Carla Nicholls, Perdita Felicien, Nathaniel Miller, Tessia Zelinka, and James Steacy
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The National Event Group Coach and members of the Canadian National Team training for the 2012 Olympics chose St. Kitts for a two-week-long warm weather training camp, and were effusive in their praise of the venue. Some of the group departed today (March 11), while others will remain for another week.

Coach Carla Nicholls decided to travel to the Federation after listening to the recommendation of Desai Williams, a Kittitian native who coaches in Canada.

"You have world class facilities here," she enthused to The Observer, "and the Marriott is the perfect place for athletes to recover after training. The staff makes us feel at home and are very accommodating."

Hungarian-born Tessia Zelinka, a heptathlete, echoed Nicholls' sentiments.

"It's a great opportunity for us as athletes," she said. "The track is nice, allowing us to do complete training for all the events."

The heptathlon consists of seven events: the long jump, javelin throw, 800-meter sprint, 200-meter sprint, 100-meter sprint, shot put, and high jump. A veteran of the sport, Zelinka placed fifth in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, second the 2010 Commonwealth games held in India, and snared the gold medal at the 2007 Pan American games in Brazil.

She continued, "Leaving practice sessions and going to the beach to wash my feet relaxes the muscles, and that's really ideal. It's great having work, fun, and play in the same package for a change."

Perdita Felicien, who competed in the 100-meter hurdles in both the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, admired "The Botanical Gardens, the superb training facilities, and the people who are always smiling, helpful, and friendly."

Felicien and Garfield Crooks, the Jamaican-born massage therapist for Canada's national team, are arming themselves to become roaming ambassadors of goodwill for St. Kitts-Nevis, so that more people will come and enjoy the country.

Ask James Steacy what it takes to be a winner in the Olympics and he will tell you, "The ability to make extra sacrifices, and an unwavering desire to succeed at all cost."

Steacy, whose Olympic event is the hammer throw, placed twelfth in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and remains hopeful for greater accomplishments in the future.

He told The Observer that he "can't wait to come back already, because of your warm welcome and how you accommodate our needs."

Similarly, Nathaniel Miller, a water polo player whose team placed eleventh in the 2008 Olympics games, and is Zelinka's husband, enumerated some of the reasons why he has developed an irresistible attraction to St. Kitts, including "Black Rocks, the weather, and the beautiful training facilities that act in good combination with the beach."

Three Anguillan athletes, accompanied by coach Wilma Proctor, who has collaborated with the Canadian government for several years, also came by invitation but departed before The Observer had a chance to speak with them.

Coach Nicholls vowed to repeat the St. Kitts-Nevis experience for both present and future Canadian athletes. She expressed great respect and admiration for Hon. Glen Phillip, Minister of Sports and Culture, as well as for the St. Kitts Amateur Athletics Association and the culture of friendliness, hospitality, and supportiveness.

"We had everything at this world-class facility to prepare us for the London 2012 Olympics. We look forward to formulating a mutually beneficial partnership. We just don't want you alone to give and give. Thank you so much for the splendid accommodations that we received," she asseverated.

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