Vashon McCarthy battles on after mother's passing

Observer writer

Monday, July 02, 2018

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Former Jamaica national junior shot put/discus thrower Vashon McCarthy is not a stranger to setbacks and disappointments, but the latest, the passing of his mother Ina Lennon-Lewis, could prove to be his biggest challenge so far.

Lennon-Lewis died recently after a long illness and McCarthy, the former Ascot High and Jamaica College thrower who is in the process of transferring from Cloud Community College in Kansas to Clemson University in South Carolina, returned home for her funeral.

“I am back home just to sort out some things so I can move on,” McCarthy told the Jamaica Observer while attending the JAAA National Junior and Senior Championships recently. “It has affected me in a big way as she was all that I had and I was her only child.

“She was the foundation, so I have to continue and I can't give up right now despite the tragedy and everything. It's a downfall for me, but God knows best,” he said.

“Big Vash”, as he is known to his peers, added: “I can't stop talking about my mother, she did everything for me and from now on everything that I do will be for her. She was the one there for me like how mothers do and we have to carry on from there.”

Setbacks have marked his life from being declared academically ineligible to compete at Champs while at Ascot High in 2014 where he was the top athlete to losing a finger while lifting weights two weeks after he started school at Cloud Community College in September 2016.

In both cases McCarthy managed comebacks: transferring to Jamaica College where he sat out a year before finishing his high school career in 2016, then moving overseas and and excelling at Cloud CC.

McCarthy leaves Cloud CC as the indoor and outdoor shot put record holder, and said he has learnt valuable lessons that he knows will help him later in life.

“The Ascot situation was the first and it was hard for me, but it also helped me a lot as I learned that I am strong mentally, I am still fighting, not giving up at all; it helped me to know what to expect in life.”

His two years at Cloud, he said, has set him up for what is to come at Clemson: “We learn as we go along. I also learn to adapt to different climates and travelling to different meets every weekend.”

His reasons for choosing to attend Clemson for the next two years were the high academic standards and Head Coach Mark Elliot, a Jamaican national who he said met with him face to face before his decision to sign.

McCarthy, who intends to pursue a degree in business management, admitted that Elliot's background made the decision easier for him. “Not all coaches will be able to understand our issues, and after meeting with [Elliot] I felt comfortable that I would be able to maximise my potential there.”

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