It was a very frustrating period for me!


It was a very frustrating period for me!

Thrower Warren Barrett Jr says he came close to quitting athletics due to wrist injury

Observer writer

Sunday, November 08, 2020

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Former CARIFTA Games shot put gold medallist Warren Barrett Jnr came close to quitting the sport after a series of injuries to his wrist and his back left him a mere spectator for years after he left Calabar High School.

Barrett Jnr, son of former Reggae Boyz World Cup captain and current goalkeeper coach of the Reggae Boyz, who transferred to Calabar after winning double gold medal at Cornwall College is trying to get his career back on track after taking up a full scholarship at Liberty University in Virginia where he is three years of eligibility.

While battling wrist injuries since he started the sport, a more serious “three levels of cervical disc herniation” he said threatened to derail his ambitions of staying in the sport and one day making a national senior team, he told the Jamaica Observer in an interview this week.

“I was very frustrated...I can can vividly remember going to watch training one day and I saw the other guys throwing and I was brought to tears as I was unable to throw as I had a wrist injury,” said Barrett Jnr.

The promising thrower spent four years at the University of the West Indies-Mona, making the decision to 'stay home' with coach Julian Robinson, and said the wrist injuries that started in high school, never got better and the back injuries added to his list of worries.

“Right through high school I can't say I was ever 100 [per cent] fully fit, it started in second year Class Two and I can't say what has caused it. However, physiotherapy helped to some extent, injections as well, but I am hopeful about the prospects for the future and the trainers here can help me,” he noted.

Barrett Jnr added: “I am still experiencing some wrist pain, but trainers here are working with me and hopeful we will solve the issue and so I can be fully 100 per cent and prepared to compete.”

“I am a firm believer in every thing happens for a reason,” he said sharing a quote he says his former coach Julian Robinson used a lot.

“Coach would say 'every body pot no ready at the same time.' God has different paths for every one, of course there were times when I would question myself on if I should continue, but having a strong mindset and strong family, having friends who genuinely care for you in your corner was a big plus.

“It was a very frustrating period for me. However, you learn to adapt to certain circumstances, and whenever the chance was there for me to train or for me to compete, I did it because I love the sport and will definitely do whatever it was to help me compete,” Barrett Jnr reasoned.

After winning the Class Two double gold at the ISSA Boys Champs and then the gold at the CARIFTA Games in Bermuda in 2012, Barrett who made up for his lack of bulk with speed and technique across the throwing ring, made the decision to stay home rather than take up one of the many scholarship offers that came his way.

“I decided to stay home because of coach Julian, he had helped me improve in the latter parts of high school, after the foundation was set at Cornwall College, and I thought that seeing what he was doing with Traves Smikle and Fredrick Dacres, I thought it was possible for me to get the same results,” he said.

“But after years went by and I continuously got hurt, I thought a change of environment was necessary, and hopefully, if it is God's will, it will go to plan,” he said.

It came as a surprise to some that he ended up at the private evangelical Christian university in Lynchburg, Virginia, that was founded by well-known American televangelist Jerry Falwell and Elmer L Towns in 1971, but Barrett Jnr said he had good reasons for his choice.

“I chose Liberty because of my friendship with Kyle Mitchell, my former high school teammate. Yes, it is a small school in comparison to other larger programmes, so the expectations are less. However, that does not affect anything because as an athlete you still have to go out there and perform, so I don't think the size of the programme will affect me, but I will do what I have to the best of my abilities,” he said.

“Liberty was a good choice for me as firstly it is a Christian school and it embodies what my belief system, they had areas of studies in which I was interested in and Kyle is there and I wanted to be around some one who is going to push me in training and he is Jamaican so that will help me,” Barrett Jnr added.

Despite spending four years at UWI-Mona, Barrett will have three years eligibility at Liberty and explained: “I have three years here as while I was at UWI I did not get to compete too frequently because of the many injuries that I had to endure. It was very hard for me not to compete as I really wanted to go out there, but my health was important and I am not sure that I was prepared mentally, but physically I was ready.”

The athlete said he has realistic expectations of what to shoot for while at Liberty.

“I know I have the talent, and as all my coaches have told me including coach Clendon Henderson at Liberty, that I have world-class potential,” he said.

“However, my size and strength levels need to significantly increase for me to become a world beater or even to compete at the level required on the world stage,” Barrett Jnr explained.

Qualifying for the NCAA Nationals, he said, was on is “to do list” over the next three years.

“It's all God's willing [as] nothing is set in stone and you have to work for everything, but I just believe that while I am here, if I am healthy and if all goes well, definitely I can cause some problems in the NCAA system,” he noted.

Barrett Jnr says his teammate Mitchell will be a good foil for him.

“I know I have the talent and having a training partner like Kyle, I know that I can't slack off anytime even in the training room or in training, so my expectations are pretty high... but whatever happens, it is in God's perfect will, so I have no issues if something happens that I end up questioning the Fathers will,” he stated.

Barrett Jnr's desire to compete for the country at the senior level still burns brightly.

“Definitely, I still have ambitions to represent Jamaica at the highest level, to replicate what my father did in his playing days, but if it not the will of the Creator, I will not be disappointed as every one is called for a different purpose,” he said.

“If the Lord would not allow it, then that is something that was not ordained in my destiny to happen, so I fully put my trust in Him in whatever I do and if it is His plan for me to represent the country at the highest level, then I will put in the work,” Barrett Jnr ended.

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