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News Article

March 31, 2014
'Pocket Rocket' coming to The Bahamas for the first time

KINGSTON, Jamaica - It's hard to imagine that Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the darling of the entire Caribbean, has never stepped foot on the sunny islands of The Bahamas.
This May, she intends to change that by taking part in the inaugural International Association of Athletics Federations' (IAAF) World Relay Championships, and the compact World and Olympic Champion is looking forward to the trip.
Winning four of the past five sprint global titles outdoors in the 100 meters (m), and by adding a 60m indoor title this year, the Jamaican national record holder is unquestionably the number one female sprinter in the world right now. Inclusive of relays, she has eight global gold medals since her OIympic debut in Beijing, China.
Her coach Stephen Francis calls her the greatest female sprinter over 100m in the history of athletics. With the hardware she has racked up in just a short period of time, it would be difficult to dispute that. In short, no other woman has done what she did, particularly in the 100m over the past six years. Still, the 27-year-old petite 'pocket rocket', as she is called by her many fans, remains as humble as ever, while still focussing on getting better.
"I'm driven from the inside and from certain circumstances what happened in my life. I don't pay attention to where I fall in history. I just want to continue to get better, and leave the sport better than I found it," said Fraser-Pryce. "I'm reserved. I try to stay away from being looked at as number one - just try to remain humble and grounded. Even after I won the three gold medals in Moscow (2013 World Championships), when I got back to my room, I was like, 'how am I possibly going to top this'. My husband says that I never enjoy anything, but enjoyment will come in time. I just want to continue to get better, and ensure that other young athletes could see that you need to work hard and you need to stay grounded and focussed to get to the top. The sky is the limit."
Fraser-Pryce leads by example. After pulling up to her morning workout last Thursday in her Mercedes jeep, she turned on her Bob Marley music through her head phones, and then engaged in an intense training session.
Francis, the head coach of the Maximizing Velocity and Power (MVP) Track Club, has the ultimate confidence in her.
"Stephen is a wonderful man. He looks rough, but inside he is soft-hearted," said Fraser-Pryce. "I admire him for the fact that he believes in me so much, and I believe in him as well. It's a two-way thing. For you to reap the rewards, you have to pay attention to the coach. I've always listened to him. He has not guided me wrong.
"I just want to continue to pave the way for the young men and women in our society. There is many more to come from Shelly-Ann. I still want to run 21 seconds, and I still want to go under 10.7, so I am still set on working hard, being grounded, and just trusting God to give me the strength and the health to do the things that I need to do."
Fraser-Pryce has personal best times of 10.70 seconds and 22.09 seconds in the 100 and 200m respectively. The 100m time is a national record for Jamaica. The world record in the century, her best event, is a blistering 10.49 seconds, set by the late Florence Griffith-Joyner 26 years ago.
"If I told you I didn't think about 10.49, I would be lying, but I'm one of those persons who believe that in order for me to think about a 10.49, I would have to get to a 10.6, and I would have to get to a 10.5," she said. "As it stands now, I'm not even at 10.6 yet. Until I get there, I try not to focus on the 10.49.
"I definitely believe in my heart that I'm a 10.6 sprinter, but nothing happens before its time. I just have to continue to work."
Fraser-Pryce said that she's very competitive when pitted against her rivals such as American Carmelita Jeter, but she's friendly as well.
"When we are competing against each other, we would walk past each other and don't say anything, but when we would have finished, we would stop and have a conversation. I would tell her that I admire her and she would say that she admires me, and stuff like that," said Fraser-Pryce. "It's a healthy rivalry. I like running against the U.S. They have been dominant for so many years, but we (Jamaica) are here now, and we have much more success to come."
Fraser-Pryce said that when she first started winning races, she discovered what her potential was, and how much better she could be if she continued to work hard.
"I knew what was expected of me," said Fraser-Pryce. "It's very hard to stay at the top, but you just have to keep working.
"I remember first walking through the tunnel at 'Champs' (Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association Boys and Girls Athletics Championships), and being nervous. This shows how far I have come in the sport. I understand and analyze someone's start, technique, and the amount of power they are getting from the blocks.
"At my first 'Champs' I was very excited. I made final and finished seventh. The adrenaline was flowing, but after the race I was excited and proud. The Olympics has shown you that you need to be calm and relaxed. 'Champs' has paved the way for a lot of us, and for me, it taught me how to handle certain situations."
Coincidentally, 'Champs' wrapped up on Saturday at the national stadium here in Jamaica, two days after the interview. Fraser-Pryce, who represented Wolmer's Girls at 'Champs' during her high school career, even provided a bit of commentary during the five-day meet. Whereas full-time commentating as an analyst is quite possible once her athletic career would have concluded, Fraser-Pryce said that she highly doubts that she would go into coaching, because she sees the stress that Coach Francis go through on a daily basis, and doesn't know if she can go through the same thing. For now, she's just enjoying her time commentating at 'Champs'.
"Champs is just awesome. I really love it and can't help but to make noise. I'm one of those fans who get my nails done in school colors. I'm big on style, and I focus on what I like."
Fraser-Pryce's animated style has translated right over into her senior career. She is always seen on the tour, or at big meets, with an assortment of hair styles which separates her from the rest. As a matter of fact, it was at her hair salon, Chic Hair Ja in Kingston, where she gave the interview to reporters last Thursday.
"It's not just that I love hair, I have a passion to create jobs," she said, vowing to bring in a barber in short order as well. "A lot of young men and ladies in Jamaica have degrees and are sitting at home because there are no jobs. If I can create a business so that other persons can get employment, then that's healthy for me and for Jamaicans."
Despite accomplishing it all outdoors over the past six years outdoors, this year could have a special meaning in Fraser-Pryce's career, in that she has already won the world indoor title in the 60m in her first year running indoors, she could run in the Commonwealth Games for the first time, and she is expected to be competing in the inaugural world relays in what would be her first trip to The Bahamas.
She spoke about how excited she is to be coming to The Bahamas.
"I have no idea of what The Bahamas looks like, but I can't wait to experience the culture and enjoy the championships there," she said. "I like the beach, not so much to go in the water because I can't swim, but just to sit on the beach and drink a martini and chill.
"I just hope that Jamaica fields more than one team because we have the depth. I'm not a huge fan of relays because there is always some controversy as to who will run what leg but this particular event should be a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to it, just going there and getting it done in The Bahamas. Relays are always exciting, and being a part of this first championship is very huge. I would love to be there to see what unfolds."
The world relays is set for May 24-25, at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.
At home in Jamaica, Fraser-Pryce's typical day is inclusive of her early training session at 6:30 every morning, taking her five-year-old niece to school at times, dropping by the hair salon, going to the gym around midday, getting a massage if needed, and then back for a second workout in the evenings. At times, she would have photo sessions, shoot commercials, and watch a movie if time permits. Her favorite TV shows are the Jamie Foxx and Steve Harvey shows.
As for her Pocket Rocket Foundation, it is geared toward assisting student-athletes in getting scholarships for secondary and tertiary level education.
"We're just trying to alleviate some of the stress and the problems that they face," said Fraser-Pryce. "When I started high school, I was blessed to have a woman assist me financially. She saw something in me that I didn't even see, and started to fund my education, my books, my lunch... everything.
"At that point, I didn't want anyone to feel sorry for Shelly-Ann, but she showed me compassion and love in so many ways and that in a way made me obligated to do the same thing to other athletes who are coming from impoverished situations. They are here, and a lot of their parents can't afford to send them to school so that they could become better individuals."
Fraser-Pryce's foundation gave out seven scholarships to deserving student-athletes last year.
"It has been really remarkable to see the progress that they have made, especially in the school area," said Fraser-Pryce. "We don't just hand out the checks, but be there for them emotionally as well. The foundation has given me a platform to cause a change for young Jamaicans. I just hope to get more sponsors to come on board so that we could give out more scholarships. These young kids are talented and bright.... they are just unable to pay their way through school."
On two of her tattoos, one on each wrist - one has the word 'hope' on it, and the other has the word 'faith' on it.
"I'm big on faith and hope. Everything that I hope for in life, I have faith that God will provide it for me," said Fraser-Pryce. "I still have a lot of work to do to get where I want to go. I understand what hard work does. I just have to remain dedicated and put in the work."
Apart from track and field, Fraser-Pryce said that she has grown to like football and cricket, but has an appreciation for all sports.

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News Article

April 04, 2014
Jackson likes the direction regional athletics is headed in

With a focus of promoting Caribbean athletics globally, the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) is spearheading a 'Day in the Life' Series, featuring some of the best athletes in the region. The first stop on the regional tour was the island nation of Jamaica. Sheldon Longley is with the IAAF team, and will be bringing updates here in the Sports Section of The Nassau Guardian.
Whereas Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) President Dr. Warren Blake spoke about a possible coaching exchange between Jamaica and east African countries with the intention of broadening the athletic bases of both countries, particularly in distance running for Jamaica, former sprinter Grace Jackson has a different approach.
The Olympic silver medalist over 200 meters (m) from the 1988 Seoul Games said last week that as long as Jamaica maintain its status in the sprints, put a little more emphasis on the quarter-mile events, show a little more progression in the jumps and successfully move from junior prominence to senior success in the throws, the tiny island nation would move past countries like Russia and the United States (U.S.), and become the number one athletic country in the world.
Additionally, she said that the rest of the Caribbean, including The Bahamas, can do just as good as Jamaica by specializing and focussing on certain areas.
Jamaican sprinting came to the forefront at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, as they out-shone the U.S., taking four out of the six sprint titles, two in world record times. In total, they won nine sprint medals. The following year, Jamaica took three sprint titles, and both 4x100m relays at the Berlin World Championships. They duplicated that feat at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu and at the 2012 London Olympics, with the exception of the women's sprint relay, and then last year, Jamaica won four individual sprint titles, and captured both sprint relays at the Moscow World Championships. The country is undoubtedly the number one sprinting nation in the world right now.
"I think that we were knocking on the door for a while," said former sprint sensation Grace Jackson. "Merlene (Ottey) was that first inspiration, and must be given credit as such. She took us through a period of years where she was dominant. Other males were also dominant, but not getting medals in the major championships, but the people who were beating them were not necessarily better.
"We would fall short in finals at big meets, but then turn around and beat those same athletes who were beating us in the next meet. So, the question is, was it mental - racing in a final? Our men, in particular, stayed above ground by making it to the finals, but we just couldn't win medals.
"What is happening now is that we are breaking through and winning medals. I don't think that we have a need for the middle distance events. We have won medals in a number of other events. We just have to nurture the events that we have done well in - put the support behind those events like the hurdles and the jumps, continue to support the sprints, and bring the 400 meters back on board. I do not see us at this point showing the talent in the middle distance. We need to work with the things that we have a history of making something big in.
"If we were to touch all of those and get more medals, we could move ourselves past countries like Germany, the U.S., and Russia. Individuals have to be able to have the desire to do those events. For instance, some of the 200 runners could be quarter-milers. They have to come to terms with that. We can move from a junior to a senior level in the throws, and then we have it made. Jamaica would be at the top of the medal standings at the world championships and the Olympics."
Jackson said that a major aspect of athletics is to have athletes running in the right events. She believes in the student-athlete concept, and is driven to develop a facility that allows an athlete to develop, become a different person, and then move on.
"I believe that universities are the answer across the region to be the feeder systems for national teams," said Jackson. "Universities have a structure that will always be in place. It's an ideal home for athletes. They offer academic and medical support. Universities help athletes to develop athletes into being elite, and to know themselves. At the end of the day, athletes need strong coaching, video playback, massages, medical services, nutrition, and an understanding of where they would want to go."
A number of top Jamaican sprinters opt against running indoors. Triple world record holder Usain Bolt doesn't run indoors, and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce didn't either until this past March in Sopot, Poland. This year represented her first time running at the world indoor championships, and still she was able to come out with the gold medal, in the women's 60 meters (m). Jackson said that whereas it would be good for Jamaicans to add to their athletic resumes, generally, there isn't a need for them to run indoors.
"We could just concentrate on being the best that we can be outdoors," said Jackson. "Most athletes don't want to run indoors. It creates more opportunities for them to get hurt. If we are going to improve internationally, ultimately we would have to build the stadium, and build our athletes to be top athletes. We need to focus on being the best that we can be at all times, and make athletics the best that it can be."
Just this past weekend, the island nation of Jamaica concluded one of its most successful Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships, commonly known as 'Champs'. Over 20 records were broken at the five-day high school meet. Jackson said that the excitement surrounding 'Champs' is extraordinary, but they need to be careful when it comes to the preservation of athletes, so that they could become successful on the senior level.
"When you look at a lot of our high school athletes, 'Champs' is their Olympic Games - only a small percentage of them will make it," said Jackson. "'Champs' produces top junior athletes, but how do we funnel them in different directions so that we have a larger catchment. It's a tough transitional period to the senior level. We need to create more opportunities for our junior athletes. High school competition is important, and it is a tradition that we love, and we now need a bigger stadium because of it, but we have to be careful not to overwork our young athletes."
As for the world relays this May, Jackson said that The Bahamas has a huge task ahead in staging a successful meet - the first event of its kind in the history of global athletics. The inaugural International Association of Athletics Federations' (IAAF) World Relay Championships is set for May 24-25, at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium here in The Bahamas.
"I'm very excited about it. It's a great event," said Jackson. "A lot of people in Jamaica, and the Caribbean, are inspired by relays. All of the athletes want to perform well. For Jamaicans, anything that has a baton in the hand we love. As a people, we are looking forward to competing in The Bahamas. I pray for a successful meet, and for it to continue to grow. I'm hoping that The Bahamas host well and create the kind of excitement that the IAAF is looking for. We love the relays in Jamaica, and The Bahamas is big on the relays as well, and so is America, so it bodes well that it is in this half of the world."
Jackson said that it is going to take a total team effort from the Jamaican athletes to go to The Bahamas and return with the desired results, particularly with triple world record holder Bolt most likely being unavailable because of a foot injury. Earlier last week, Jamaican athletes Yohan Blake and Warren Weir had hinted that they would be coming to The Bahamas to break the world record in the men's 4x200m. Without Bolt, who holds the individual world record in that event, the task becomes significantly more challenging.

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News Article

June 26, 2014
Jehue Gordon: Balancing the books and professional athletics

With a focus of promoting Caribbean athletics globally, the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) is continuing with its 'Day in the Life' Series, featuring some of the best athletes in the region. In Trinidad, Guardian Sports Editor Sheldon Longley who is with the IAAF team, caught up with sensational World Champion Jehue Gordon. Here is his story:

At 22, there is little doubt that Trinidadian Jehue Gordon still has a long career ahead of him in track and field. Yet, the youngster has already accomplished so much.
He is an Olympic finalist, and has won world titles on the junior and senior levels, the latter coming just last year in Moscow, Russia. These days, Gordon is trying to maintain a level of consistency in the long hurdles, his specialty event ever since his junior days at the Belmont Boys Secondary School in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
He finished fourth at the Berlin World Championships as a 17-year-old in a national record time of 48.26 seconds, missing a medal by three one hundredths of a second and beating his idol Dominican Felix Sanchez in the process. That was really his coming out party right there, a year after the Beijing Olympics, and a year in which he won double gold at CARIFTA in the short and long hurdles. The following year, Gordon duplicated that feat at CARIFTA, in record times, and carted off the Austin Sealy Award for the meet's best athlete.
Gordon has steadily been on the rise ever since, finishing sixth at the 2012 London Olympics and winning the world title last year, but he has yet to rise to prominence in 2014, a non-world championships or Olympics year. His season's best is a modest 49.32 seconds, significantly off the 47.69 national record he ran in Moscow. Gordon remains unfazed though, as he continues to balance the books and professional athletics. The full-time student at the University of West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine Campus in Trinidad, knows his best work off the track comes during the summer months when he is out of school, and he is looking for resurgence during the 20th Commonwealth Games which will be held from July 23 to August 3, in Glasgow, Scotland.
"I'm in a unique position where I was the first in the Caribbean to pursue my degree full-time as a professional athlete. It's extremely difficult," said Gordon. "Having to come home late at night after practice and being tired and having to get up for class first thing in the morning is really taxing. I find myself not getting enough rest. My friends help me out a lot by taking notes in class, and we study in groups, and that helps a lot. I know it will be rewarding in the end. I don't believe in limiting my intellectual capacity, so I will continue to push myself on and off the track."
It is that same mindset which is exhibited in an unbelievable work ethic by Gordon. Growing up in the suburban area of Maraval, he said that he doesn't try to do anything outside of his normal environment, and stays focussed on his long-term goals. He said that growing up in hilly Maraval might have aided in his early development, but added that it could have a down side as well.
"Some of the muscles that you wouldn't use running on a flat surface could be developed from running on a hill, but at the same time, it could also be a setback in terms of doing those things earlier, and not being properly treated when something happens. It's a two-way street. It could have a down and up side," said Gordon.
On the track, Gordon said that he would eventually like to be an Olympic Champion in his specialty, the 400 meters (m) hurdles, and off the track, he's looking to pursue a masters degree in Sports Management, all while training and studying at home in Trinidad. In addition to running 47.69 seconds in the long hurdles, he has personal best times of 13.81 seconds in the short hurdles, and 46.43 seconds in the flat 400m.
"On campus, I tend to be more grounded," said Gordon. "It helps me to be Jehue Gordon and not someone else, just be a normal student. With training, a lot of people think that there is not enough infrastructure, not enough facilities here at home but that's not the main problem. Around Carnival time, they close off the stadium to us, and that is one of the biggest challenges. I actually hate Carnival season because it takes away so much time from being able to put in some solid hurdling work when it should be a time to be technical. It's difficult, and at home you constantly need that support, but once you're focussed I believe that you can achieve great things."
Home in Trinidad, Gordon still has all of the amenities at his disposal just like he probably would have in a professional camp overseas. After daily workout sessions at the Hasely Crawford National Stadium, he frequents the Memphis Pioneers Gym and Fitness Centre, winds down with massages from his massage therapist, and also has access to a chiropractor, a nutritionist and a psychologist.
He stays on campus at UWI St. Augustine, but also takes pleasure in dropping by his mother's home in Maraval to enjoy some home-cooking.
"I have a real intimate relationship with my mom. She's my backbone," said Gordon. "My mom connects with me spiritually overseas. When I'm getting ready to compete, the small, little things could make an impact at the end of the day, and she is always there for guidance. She told me to push my head at the world championships. I did that, and as you know I won by the slimmest of margins. Home is where it's at though. Whenever I'm home, I have to get some buss up shot (curry goat or duck roti) and some dumplings. Home is where the heart is."
Be that as it may, Gordon said that when he's home in Maraval, his neighbors don't get to see him much because he's always on the move whether he be at training, at school, or just out running errands.
"Things are much more structured as an athlete. There is less time to play and to actually be at home, so people don't really see me that often," he said.
At the Moscow World Championships last year, Gordon won in a national record world-leading time of 47.69 seconds, just one hundredth of a second ahead of second place finisher American Champion Michael Tinsley. He finished the year ranked as the number one long hurdler in the world. Gordon said that his life has changed quite a bit since winning that world title.
"Now, a lot of people tend to recognize me, and they want to take pictures, get autographs, or simply just give advice. Also, people expect a lot more from Jehue Gordon as opposed to before. I never really thought about the gold medal, but I'm grateful that I have it. I really thought that I had a chance in 2012 at the Olympics but it came a year later."
Gordon finished sixth at the London Olympics in 48.86 seconds, a year when he had a season's best of 47.96 seconds and was expecting to do big things. He said that he was devastated, and contemplated quitting the sport.
"I studied the medal and it ran away from me. In Moscow, I just stuck to myself and didn't put any pressure on myself. The attention was on Michael Tinsley. Really, I just wanted to have fun, and go out there and execute my race," said Gordon.
Prior to the final, Gordon said that a couple of his friends actually dreamt that he had won the world title. He brought those dreams to reality.
"I wasn't sure what to do after winning. Deon Lendore, my teammate, said that you have to do the archer style (bow and arrow) but at that moment nothing came in my head. After four years of hard work, I finally did it. It was a jaw-dropping moment for me."
Gordon said that his coach Dr. Ian Hypolite is like a father figure to him, always there for guidance and advice on every topic. Another person he looks up to in Trinidad is Edwin Skinner, an Olympian and a founding father of the Memphis Pioneers Track Club for which Gordon is a member of.
"Dr. Hypolite is well versed in everything. I look up to him because he has done so much for himself, for his country, and for his family. He is like a second dad to me, and Mr. Skinner is like a living legend. He started Memphis Pioneers, and has done so much for track and field here in Trinidad."
This season, Gordon has struggled a bit, unlike last year when he started off strong and eventually galloped to the world championships title. He actually started his season last year at the Chris Brown Bahamas Invitational (CBBI) here in The Bahamas, winning that title in 49.50 seconds. He dropped that time significantly during the season, eventually posting a world-leading 47.69 in Moscow. This season, he is yet to break the 49-second barrier, and if it stands, it will be the first such season since 2008.
"I have a really good relationship with Chris Brown. He is someone I look up to. He is a veteran, an example to the region and to the wider world. I couldn't pass that up last year because I always wanted to go to The Bahamas," said Gordon. "With this season, I know my season builds and progresses after school is out. Training has been going good, and once my mind is at ease, things would definitely fall into place. I just want to show everyone that it can be done from at home. I want to pave the way for the younger athletes. Most of the successful athletes train overseas but I have been training here as a professional athlete for the last four years. Now, I'm one of the most senior athletes in the club (Memphis Pioneers), and I feel that it is up to me to pass on the knowledge to the other athletes."
This year, Gordon has had a basically subdued season due to his full-time commitments in the classroom. He finished second at the Jamaican Invitational to two-time World and Olympic Champion Felix Sanchez in 49.32 seconds. Sanchez ran 49.21 seconds. Gordon also ran in Shanghai and New York, posting times of 49.56 and 49.81 seconds respectively. He finished sixth and seventh in those events. Just last Saturday at the NGC/Sagicor Open Championships at the national stadium in Trinidad, he was beaten by a compatriot in the men's 400m hurdles for the first time in six years. He posted a time of 49.69 seconds to finish second behind Emmanuel Mayers who posted a personal best time of 49.57 seconds.
"School is always a limiting factor for me. Next year I will be out but it will be interesting to see how different it will be to cope with a lot of the pressures of the different situations," said Gordon. "I'm looking to be more consistent on the Diamond League circuit, and perform as I expect to all of the time. I want to be an overall Diamond League winner. Also, I want to win an Olympic medal. It's not going to come easy but that is what I'm aiming for, and also to be world champion again.
"I think what we need to do as a country is benchmark Trinidad to the European circuit and try to improve the way that we conduct our sporting activities - utilize our resources efficiently. The whole structure needs to change in terms of treating the athletes more respectable, providing enough resources so that the athletes will be able to train more efficiently, and making sure that coaches are properly compensated or updated in terms of the programs that are going on around the world. The technology might be outdated."
With his 47.69 clocking, young Gordon is the 22nd fastest of all-time in the 400m hurdles, about a second off the world record of 46.78 seconds which was set by American Kevin Young 22 years ago. Young is the only man ever, to run under 47 seconds in the event.
"That world record time is ridiculously fast," said Gordon. "I'll just be happy if I can be consistent and run fast when I need to run fast. I'm certainly putting no pressure on myself for that. Right now, I'm just focussed on showing gradual improvement and being there to mentor the young athletes."
When he's not competing or in the classroom, Gordon said that he just stays to himself most of the time, but does maintain contact with some of his competitors, particularly Jamaican Leford Green, and they often discuss training regimens while catching up on old times. He's a football fan as well, giving allegiance to the Chelsea Football Club in the English Premier League. When asked why Chelsea, Gordon simply replied, he used to like a girl named Chelsea, and followed the club ever since.
That's just the casual approach that makes him who he is - fierce on the track, but quite humble off of it.
After reaching the mountain top in Moscow last year, it will be interesting to see what he does for an encore in Beijing next year, and at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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News Article

February 14, 2012
Amazing Grace

Like many parents, Brennamae and Fernley Cooper want only the best for their children -- success, health and for them to maximize their full potential. With a thriving, striving eight-year-old son and a perfect second pregnancy with all of her checks balancing out, the Coopers were shocked to learn just days after their daughter was born in 2009 that she had a congenital heart disease. The mother described the feeling as she was told of what was wrong with her daughter as "heart-wrenching".
"Shock is an understatement. It was so unreal," she said. "I recall when the doctor was explaining it that I immediately started crying because everything up to that point was good. My pregnancy was great, I felt good and I had been up-to-date with all my checks, so there was no indication."
At her first post-natal visit, the doctor heard a heart murmur and referred the Coopers to pediatric cardiologist Dr. Jerome Lightbourne. Grace was diagnosed with a heart condition called Trilogy of Fallot. She had a hole in the lower chamber of her heart, a common thing, but in Grace's case it was multiple, and that the pulmonary vessel that takes blood to the lungs was too narrow, restricting the proper flow of blood to her lungs. Dr. Lightbourne made plans for the just days old baby to fly to Florida for life-saving medical help. In the first two years of her young life, Grace has already undergone a number of operations, to repair a number of defects, including having surgery to remove a portion of her small intestine after she developed intestinal infection after one of her surgeries. The baby had to undergo open-heart surgery in 2010 at one year and two months of age to repair the hole in her heart and the valve.
The Coopers know their daughter will have at least one future surgery to replace a stent that was put in to open a valve which they know will have to be replaced as Grace grows and it becomes too small. But they say God's will be done.
As she approaches her third birthday, Grace is thriving, having met all of her milestones. And her mother marvels at the milestones she said her daughter has achieved.
"Initially, the motor skills we had to work on and thankfully while I was by her bedside I was able to watch the physical therapists as they massaged and worked her legs, arms and neck, positioning her so she could hold up her head and do the different things to strengthen her because she was in a sedated state for such a long time that the body could become stiff in certain areas," she said.
"So I learned to do the exercises and when we returned home, my husband and I continued doing them with her at home for a few weeks. After that, Grace was just striving -- feeding, sitting up and crawling. Now she's walking, talking and doing well."
Her mother describes her as a toddler with a strong personality who loves to sing and smile. "She's just a happy soul," said Cooper.
Grace was able to have all of her surgeries done in the United States courtesy of The Sir Victor Sassoon (Bahamas) Heart Foundation, a privately funded charity that raises funds primarily through donations and from the annual Heart Ball held in February, and which will be held on Saturday, February 18 at Sheraton Cable Beach Resort. Over 97 percent of each dollar raised goes directly to the aid of children.
"Prior to 2009, I honestly did not even know about the Sir Victor Sassoon Heart Foundation ... and honestly I don't know if that's sad or whatever, but often times you don't know about these things until you have to use them yourself."
She said as Dr. Lightbourne made arrangements for her daughter to seek life-saving medical help in the United States, she still was unaware to what extent the organization would be able to help them. Cooper said she was left speechless when the doctor explained that the foundation would cover the bill. Today, she is eternally grateful and still does not know how much it cost for her daughter's life-saving surgeries.
"I recall one day when one of the medical personnel came by and asked if I wanted to have a look at what the bill was so far, but I said to her I really didn't want to know because I didn't want a headache that day. Later on she kind of gave us an idea, and it was thousands of dollars -- money that my husband and I would not have been able to come up with at that time -- and not even now. From when this happened, we knew we would not be able to pay back monetarily -- not dollar for dollar, but what we can do is tell people about the foundation."
Reliving the ordeal they went through with their daughter is still painful to the Coopers, but the mother said she and her husband agreed to share her story as their way of giving back.
"If it touches the heart of people who hear the story to give to the foundation, we would do it every time because we are eternally grateful. I know of situations where parents who got bad news from doctors that their loved one has to go into surgery, and they have to come up with 'X amount' before the surgery can even be done, and we cannot relate to that thanks to the foundation. We don't know how that feels."
Cooper said they've made one or two monetary contributions to the foundation since, but nothing they do in comparison can compare. And she encourages people to make donations to the organization because they're not just making a donation, but saving lives.
Through the generosity of others, she says Grace's life -- which she knows has a purpose, has been saved.
"I work with children who sometimes have certain disabilities that prevents them from leading a full life, but because of the opportunity that the foundation has afforded us, Grace can live a normal life. Grace can run around like her peers now, and the teachers don't have to be cautious, and if they are cautious, it's only out of their own fear, and they want to be extra careful. It's not because she's ailing," she says.
With Grace "out of the woods", Cooper says their goal is to help Grace to live a full life, grow up and use her existence as a testimony to let people know.
"We are firm believers in God and I know that even going through it, if I had a different spirit ... a different mindset, I can honestly say I wouldn't have been as mentally stable as I am today because even the way Grace's body changed, and things we saw with our eyes could have blown our minds. As a young couple we were close," said the 35-year-old mother, but this whole experience has brought us even closer because we went through this together and that made it even more easy to deal with."
After the ordeal her family went through she says many people have told her that they expect Grace to be "spoiled", but the mother says she disciplines her daughter when necessary, but has noticed that her daughter has a mind of her own and is very strong-minded. She says if Grace wants to do something she will let them know. And that Grace doesn't stop calling for her mom until she has her attention.
With the foundation's major fundraiser, the Heart Ball scheduled for Saturday, February 18 at the Sheraton Cable Beach Resort, the Coopers are planning to attend for the first time. She says for the past two years they weren't able to attend because they weren't able to financially, but this year the Cooper's are making the sacrifice to pay the $500 per couple price tag, for tickets plus travel into New Providence for the event. She says it's the least they can do.
The Sir Victor Sassoon (Bahamas) Heart Foundation was established as a living tribute by Lady Sassoon following the death of her husband, Sir Victor Sassoon, in 1961, to assist Bahamians with heart disease. Lady Sassoon had asked that instead of sending flowers to honor her husband, that people send a donation to the local heart fund. A few weeks later the hospital called to tell her that a substantial amount of money had been donated in her husband's memory, but that there was no local heart fund. She took it upon herself to create one.
Through the foundation's fundraising efforts, over 4,000 children have been afforded quality medical care. The foundation currently has a list of 11 children that need immediate life-saving surgery.
Donations can be made to the Sir Victor Sassoon (Bahamas) Heart Foundation at P.O. Box N-8189, Nassau, Bahamas.

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News Article

October 27, 2014
Physical activity and the cancer patient

Historically, clinicians have advised cancer patients to rest and avoid activity, but newer research has shown that exercise is not only safe and possible during cancer treatment, but can improve how a patient functions physically, as well as his or her quality of life.
"A lot of people think that they have cancer so they're tired and should go home and rest, but that's not what the current research is showing, says Dr. Felicia Adderley, a physiotherapist at Doctors Hospital Rehabilitation Centre. "Cancer survivors who took part in a high-intensity exercise program had better muscle strength, cardiopulmonary function, quality of life and less fatigue than those in the control group up to a year later," she said.
"Another study showed that individuals taking part in an 18-week high-intensity rehab program were able to return to work faster and at pre-diagnosis level of working hours as compared to the control group that received only standard medical care, without incorporating any cancer rehab or exercise into their regimen or treatment. Another study shows that physical training has significant, beneficial effects on fatigue, compared with no intervention at all. So exercise doesn't make you more tired; it gives you more energy," said the doctor who spoke at the recent Doctors Hospital Distinguished Lecture Series, at which the topic cancer rehabilitation and wellness was addressed.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that, to the extent they are able, cancer patients and survivors should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise weekly. It adds that clinicians should advise cancer survivors to avoid inactivity, even for patients with existing disease or who are undergoing difficult treatments. The exercise recommendations should be tailored to the individual cancer survivor to account for exercise tolerance and specific diagnosis.
"The ACSM says exercise results in better physical function, quality of life and less fatigue," said Dr. Adderley. "Even persons that are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation can still benefit from cancer rehabilitation."
According to the doctor, cancer rehab includes exercise prescription in the clinic and at home.
"We don't have people come in two to three times per week; we ask them to incorporate exercise on the days they don't come in to see us as well. What is recommended is 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week, and that can be broken up into 30 minutes per day, so that means exercising five days a week."

Cancer rehabilitation
Cancer rehabilitation is a multidisciplinary care designed to treat physical impairments and improve function and quality of life for cancer survivors as well as cancer patients who are currently undergoing treatment.
Members of this multidisciplinary team can include radiologists, oncologists, physical and occupational therapists, nutritionists, plastic surgeon, podiatrist, exercise physiologist and, in some, cases speech therapists, if there is any kind of neck cancer.
And cancer rehab is important, because cancer treatment is necessary and has numerous negative effects, according to Dr. Adderley. She said cancer rehab can help to lessen the negative effects and improve the patient's quality of life.

Who benefits
"The people that benefit from cancer rehab include people with any type of cancer; people that are at any stage -- whether early stage or late stage -- can all benefit from cancer rehab. Also those people that are currently going through chemotherapy or radiation and those that have remaining deficits up to years after being in remission can benefit," she said.
The physiotherapist said cancer rehabilitation came about because of the increase in early detection and better screening. As a result, with many more cancer survivors than there used to be, there came a new population of people living with deficits who did not realize that they could do something about it. In the United States, there are approximately 12 million cancer survivors, according to Dr. Adderley.

Common issues
Common issues that can occur due to cancer treatments include development of scar tissue, fascial cording (a band of tissue that can occur and decrease the range of motion at particular joints), fibrosis, decreased range of motion, lymphedema (an abnormal accumulation of protein-rich fluid), cancer-related fatigue, muscle weakness and imbalance, fracture secondary to bone metastasis.
"Some of the things we [physiotherapists] can do for them include mobilizing and massaging the scars, doing deep tissue work, myofascial release and manual stretching. For the lymphedema, there is decongestive therapy, which can include manual lymph drainage, compression bandages, skin care, exercise and use of compression garments. Also we can use walking programs, aerobic and strength training exercise to help decrease the likelihood of fracture, because doing the activities will help to build and strengthen the bone for weight-bearing."
Lymphedmea is an abnormal accumulation of protein-rich fluid due to mechanical insufficiency of the lymphatic system and it can develop overtime, and can occur many years after cancer treatment. According to the physiotherapist, lymphedema can occur as a result of surgery from the lymph nodes being removed. The lymph nodes help to filter out the fluid from the extremity. Dr. Adderley said that, over time, the remaining lymph nodes tend to burn out because they're overworked and unable to handle the load; the sufferer gets the swelling under the skin of the extremity.
Treatment for lymphedema can include medication, complete decongestive therapy and surgery; bandaging, fitting for compression garments, manual lymph drainage and kinesiotaping that are all offered at Doctors Hospital.
According to the physician, patient education is also very important so that persons can know what to expect from their cancer treatments, understand the precautions they should take with their treatments, learn how to monitor for signs of infection and lymphedema, and teach them ways to prevent themselves from getting lymphedema.

Benefits of cancer rehabilitation
"We would like to improve the quality of life for persons that are living with cancer, those that are undergoing treatment and those that are in remission," said the physiotherapist. "Persons will know that they will have increased endurance, increased strength, increased range of motion, prevention and control of lymphedema and, overall, what we would like to do is empower cancer patients and survivors to take control back of their lives and not just feel so helpless."
With respect to the social aspect to the disease, Dr. Adderley said it can help patients to hear stories from fellow individuals living with cancer and socialize with people who have gone through similar experiences.

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News Article

November 11, 2014
An initiative borne out of tragedy

Last year staff at Royal Fidelity were shocked at the death of their colleague -- a person who worked out daily and whom they looked at as the epitome of health. But at the age of 35, that person died of a heart attack. That pushed the group's human resources director Stacia Williams to wonder if the institution was doing enough -- if anything at all -- for its staff as it related to their health and wellness.
Last week, Royal Fidelity initiated the Phillippa Wilson Get in Gear Health and Wellness Program, a three-day health fair held during office hours at the Royal Fidelity Head Office which is mandatory for all of their 189 staff members, including those in Royal Fidelity's Grand Bahama arm to participate.
During the health fair, staff members in groups of 35 were subject to medical screenings, healthy lifestyle coaching, massages, healthy cooking and juicing/blending demonstrations, and were able to take their fill of fresh fruit made available to them at the pop-up market. The health fair took place in the courtyard at Fidelity's head office in half-day sessions per group over the three days.
"We really need everyone to understand how important a healthy lifestyle is... eating the right foods, exercising and de-stressing," said Williams. "Phillippa Wilson [who was our] assistant vice-president of corporate finance in the Royal Fidelity family died September 20, and she was the epitome of health. She would leave her office every day, go running, and everyone would mention how disciplined she was to do this. We saw her as a physically fit person who ate healthy every day, and she died of a heart attack basically at age 35. That was a shocker for us."
After that tragedy, Williams said she knew that the institution had to do more as it relates to health and wellness for their staff and their families. The Phillippa Wilson Get in Gear Health & Wellness Program was born out of that tragedy to create awareness for the staff.
"We just need everybody to have a mindset change, so we made it mandatory for all of our staff to come out. This was not something they could just choose to do because it was that important to us."
Jan Isaacs, president of Jemi Health and Wellness, and her team addressed Fidelity's staff on wellness inclusive of mind, body and spirit. They gave informative talks on the foods staff members should and should not be eating as well as how to shop and read labels on packaging. The Jemi team also covered the foods people with cholesterol and diabetes should be purchasing and what they should not be consuming along with the importance of portion size.
Chef Ancilleno Solomon showed employees how to prepare light, healthy lunches and dinners. He specifically demonstrated recipes using chicken breast, salmon, a medley of vegetables and gluten-free pasta. The Jemi team showed the staff how to blend juices and vegetables to get their intake of fruit and vegetables in a juice form for those that liked the idea of juicing. The Fidelity family also took home recipes so that they would be able to replicate the meals at home.
In the final analysis, the health fair was simply a prelude to the main event -- the Get in Gear Six-Week Challenge. Staff came together in groups of four, named their team and chose a team captain. The team had to participate in weekly assigned activities with personal trainer Toriano Johnson; engage in cooking classes; weigh in weekly and attend Weight Watchers meetings (optional).
Williams stressed that the six-week challenge was not an affair to see who could lose the most weight. While weight loss was a component of the challenge, that they were more focused on their staff member's body mass index (BMI) results.
In an effort to ensure that their staff approached the challenge in a healthy way, they were not allowed to fast and had to post pictures eating three healthy meals per day on the group's social media site. Williams also gave out weekly challenges through their social media group, with challenges increasing in difficulty each week.
"After the six-week challenge, I'm hoping that people will have a new awareness and a new appreciation for a healthy lifestyle, and understanding the importance of their health," said Williams. "People can weigh whatever they want to weigh, be whatever size they want to be; it doesn't mean they're not healthy. If you're healthy in your size and happy with your size, then I'm happy -- but I need you to be healthy. We don't want to lose another of our employees to a silent killer like a heart attack."
Williams said the next six weeks would be rough for Fidelity's staff as the challenge starts in the lead-up to the holiday season and all the goodies that will be tempting them everywhere. She is hoping they will not succumb and survive through to the challenge culmination which will take place just before Fidelity's Christmas party at which time Williams said they would get to eat, drink and be merry.
Teams will be able to win prizes throughout the six-week challenge with the overall winner receiving an iPad, cash and gym membership for the year at the end of the six-week challenge.

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News Article

October 09, 2011
Bald, beautiful surviving

No one ever thinks they will develop cancer. Cassandra Lewis-Moore was one of those people. The 34-year-old thought there was a possibility she would get diabetes as it'runs'in her family, but she never thought cancer would happen to her. But during the eighth month of pregnancy with her first child in October 2010, she felt a huge lump in one of her breasts. She knew something was wrong. She sought medical attention.

"It was very large, and it shouldn't have been there,"recalled Lewis-Moore."I'd never felt anything like that before. It didn't hurt, but it was very hard and very big. But because the breasts were so large you couldn't see it."

Because she was pregnant, her doctor ordered an ultrasound of the breast and concluded it was breast milk that would go away once she started breastfeeding. Lewis-Moore, a newlywed and her husband, Kevin welcomed a beautiful baby boy, Andreus, who they call"KJ"into the family. In the months after her son's birth, she noticed her breast size decreasing, but the lump getting bigger and protruding through the skin and not disappearing like the doctor had told her it would. It had started to hurt. It was a pain she chalked up to tenderness from breastfeeding. That was until the day she was playing with a then crawling"KJ"and like all babies do, he kneed her in the breast. The pain was excruciating. She remembers actually pushing her baby away from her so suddenly that she scared him. She thought about what the doctors had told her, and massaged her breast and put hot towels on it to help dissolve the milk. But it was the day that she took a"me day"in January 2011, and headed to the spa for a massage. As the therapist worked on her back, she said it was so painful she could not complete the therapy. That pain sent her back to her doctor.

Her doctor requested a mammogram. The result showed hardened milk. Her doctor requested a lumpectomy to remove the hardened mass, which was done in March 2011. The mass was tested and the result returned as Stage 2 breast cancer. The cancer cells were actually inside the hardened breast milk.


Lewis-Moore was scared--not because it had taken so long to determine she had breast cancer--she was mad because she wondered what would happen to her family after she'd waited so long to get married and have a child, and then to be diagnosed with cancer while still a newlywed and a new mother.

"In my 20s, it was all about education and my career--so in my 30s, it was about getting married. And I'm the only girl and the last child in my family, so it was a big thing[for me to get married and have a child], and to be told this[that I had cancer]. I thought, what was going to happen to my family?"

Lewis-Moore began her battle with the deadly cancer cells. She celebrated her baby's first birthday one week before she began chemotherapy treatment. And she did her best to keep her energy up over the months of treatment for her child, who was too young to understand that his mom was sick.

"He just knows one day mommy had hair that he used to pull,"says Lewis-Moore who boldly sports a bald head no hair caps for her."The tough part was when we were playing one day and I had already started chemo, and he pulled on my hair, and a whole clump came out in his hand and fell on his face. He just dropped it and ran. He was scared. But other than that, mommy is still mommy. Sometimes, she can still play; sometimes, she can't because she's very tired."

She's finished with chemo, but will have to take additional treatment because she was diagnosed as HER2-positive. This is a diagnosis for people who have a protein called human epidermal growth factor that promotes the growth of cancer cells. HER2-positivebreast cancers tend to be more aggressive than other types of breast cancer. They're also less responsive to hormone treatment. However, treatments that specifically target HER2 are very effective.

"I'm going to have to do additional treatments, but they're not as severe as the chemo, and they want me to do radiation, and we're still setting that up."

The road to survivor isn't quite finished yet, but Lewis-Moore begs to differ. "I had a lump--the cancer was there, and they took the lump out, and the cancer hadn't spread."

Even though chemo was a downside, Lewis-Moore has come out on the other side with a friend--a 31-year-old who had to have an immediate double mastectomy because her cancer was spreading like wildfire.

"Chemo was rough; I will not lie,"she says."It is not rough for everyone, but for those who have the illnesses after the chemo, make sure you have a strong support system at home and at work."


She is now on a slow road to bringing sexy back. She's walking at least 20 minutes a day as recommended by her doctor, and looking forward to the fabulous new breasts she will soon be getting. She had a partial mastectomy on one breast, but to put safety measures in place for her future, she wants to have a double mastectomy then get those"fabulous new breasts"with which will come a tummy tuck. The surgery she will have done, a TRAM Flap Breast Reconstruction, which is the gold standard in breast construction, removes some of her stomach skin and fat, to reconstruct her breasts and fill them in.

As she battled the disease, she admits that she was not always as confident as she is today and says at one point, she really stopped trying and didn't bother with anything. But after a month or two, she said to hell with it--that she was going to live her life and have fun. She was going to dress up and go out and rock her bald head.

When she first started to lose her hair, which was natural, her cousin took her to his barber and she got a low haircut. The hair continued to come out, so she told her husband to shave off the rest. Right after she did that, Lewis-Moore, who works for BAF Financial and Insurance Bahamas Ltd., the coordinators behind Denim Day in the country for 14 years in raising monies for a cure, says she had to attend a company awards ceremony to which she wore a head-wrap. For a week she wore different head-wraps until she was hit by a hot flash at work. All she wanted to do was get naked, but she couldn't at work. The best thing for her to do was remove the head-wrap. That was the last day she wore one.

Removing the head-wrap liberated her and gave her confidence.

"I had another coworker who had breast cancer and her advice to me was to just wear makeup, but I couldn't wear that because I sweat too much, so I would just draw on my eyebrows if I remembered in the mornings. One morning, I woke up, was washing my face, looked in the mirror and said,"By damn, I don't have any eyebrows, eyelashes, nothing. So some days, I had eyebrowsâEUR¦some days, I didn't and I put on my lip-gloss, put on my earrings and was out the door."


The cancer survivor is excited for her future. And she says cancer does not have to be a death sentence. She says women need to take their health seriously and check things out because they know their bodies, and know when something is wrong. She encourages them to get bumps or moles that they hadn't seen before checked out.

For anyone who has been newly diagnosed with breast cancer or will be diagnosed in the future, Lewis-Moore says she has learned that you need to have a strong support system at home and at work, both of which she had.

Through her battle, Lewis-Moore was thankful for the support she received from her husband, and also thankful that he had a group of friends with wives, sisters or mothers that had breast cancer that he could talk to.

"It was tough, because being a newlywed and fairly young, and I didn't have urges. It just wasn't there. I was miserable in the sense that I did not want to be bothered and I did not want to be here."

But she says her husband's support, as well as that of her family--her mother traveled from Grand Bahama to stay with them for six months--and her aunts and cousins helped by keeping the baby some days and make certain she was okay, especially after days when she endured eight-hour chemotherapy sessions, helped her through the rough times. And her co-workers that knew what she was going through were helpful and very understanding.

"I never thought cancer would happen to me. I thought maybe I would get diabetes because that runs in my family, but never anything like this,"she says.

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News Article

September 15, 2011
Roadmasters set to stage fourth charity run

For the average distance runner, one goal is to compete in a half marathon and then eventually a full marathon, whether it's for his or her own personal gratification or just for a worthy cause. For the past three years, the Bahamas Roadmasters Club has provided both opportunities.
Now into its fourth year, the Roadmasters annual charity run is set for Saturday, September 17 and the interest is brewing from a cross section of the society. Last year, the proceeds went to the Pilot Club of Nassau in their quest to build a pool for the Physically Disabled. Previously, the Aids Foundation and the Aids Camp were among the beneficiaries. This year, Bahamas Roadmasters' goal is to raise at least $10,000 to assist the Ranfurly Home for Children.
The club, founded by president George Smith and others, provides an avenue for Bahamians to develop their dreams of being marathon runners. It also catered to those members who were primarily interested in losing weight or just improving their physical conditioning.
Kimley Saunders, chairman of the organizing committee for the run, said they are opening doors for so many other Bahamians to participate because of the charity aspects attached to the event. Although it's not a full or even a half marathon, the run features a number of aspects that will cater to just about every causal or competitive runner, from a five-mile run or walk from Montagu Beach to Charlotte Street and back.
There's also a 10-mile run/walk that leaves Montagu Beach and travels all the way to Goodman's Bay and back. If a participant dares to be more adventurous, there's the 20-mile run that leaves Montagu Beach and travels all the way to Blake Road and back to Montagu. Additionally, there's also the 20-mile uniformed officers relay that already has a team from the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF), two from Her Majesty Prison and three from the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) signed up to compete. There is also an open relay.
For those doing the 20-mile run, the start time is 4:30 a.m. The five and 10-mile races will begin an hour later at 5:30 a.m.
Saunders noted: "We hope to have at least 150-200 participants or more and that everyone will have fun and enjoy themselves and at the same time support the Ranfurly Home. We hope that we can raise the $10,000 or more that we are anticipating to raise for the Ranfurly Home."
In July, 2009, Angela 'Grandmother' Rahming decided to increase her mobility by moving up from walking to running. She did her first charity run two years ago and returned for her second appearance last year. This year, however, Rahming has decided to work closely with the organizing committee. She serves as the assistant secretary, but she said she was so inspired by her ability to "complete the run" without any problems that she's made it her goal to encourage others to get involved.
"It can be for anybody," she insisted. "You don't have to worry about keeping up with anybody. As long as you are consistent, you can finish. Every day you go out, you can add your mileage. Being consistent is the key."
Through her new found love, the actual 'grandmother' of one said a lot of the members were taken aback when she started, but she never allowed anyone to discourage her. In fact, they are all in awe of her achievement in just three years. Last year, Rahming participated in her first half marathon on January 31 at the ING in Miami. Her nephew, who lives in Florida, was so thrilled about her commitment and dedication, that he decided to join her.
With the support of her daughter, grandson, sister and niece on the sideline cheering her on, Rahming completed the course in three hours and 10 minutes.
"For me, that was good, really good. Obviously, it's not elite running time, but for me it was super," she quipped.
That has led to Rahming making strides in a series of other events. In October, she did a half marathon on a Saturday in Washington and on Sunday, the following week, she did her first full marathon. In April, Rahming duplicated the feat when she ran the Kentucky Derby, then drove back to Ohio and did a half marathon.
"I didn't tell anybody in the club that I was going. I just went with another friend," she stated. "They were all surprised that I did it."
Although it was a new event last year, the RBDF has dominated the relay competition and this year, sports officer Ramone Storr said the Defence Force will be back to do it again.
"I guarantee a repeat in the relays," said Storr of their dominance of the first, second, third and fifth place finishes. "We have a couple solid young fellas in training and on the squad now, so I guarantee we will repeat with the relays."
Known for their athletic prowess, Storr said the Defence Force is always capable and ready.
"This road race will just showcase our talent," he pointed out. "We really are in it because we want to do to our part to assist with charity."
For a registration fee of just $20, each participate will receive a T-shirt, Eco friendly bag, a water bottle and free food - stew conch, chicken souse, Johnny cake, fruits - Gatorade, juice and water. A number of prizes will be offered, including tickets on the Bahamas Fast Ferries, dinner for two at British Colonial Hilton and gift certificates from the Sports Centre, Mystical Gym, Lickety Split, Dominos Pizza and a full body massage from International Orthopedics.
Registration sites are the Palmdale Vision, the Reef Restaurant and the Ranfurly Home for Children.

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News Article

December 16, 2014
The temptations of the season

It's that time of year when food and drink are everywhere you turn, and the pots and punch bowls it seems are bottomless, which means it's that time of year when many people who have watched their diets all year long and got in their daily exercise, fall prey to the excesses that is everywhere for them to indulge.
And while you can have a few indulgences, certified personal trainer, Jimmy Mackey, says he sometimes tells his clients not to eat certain things, but at the same time is cognizant of the fact that when he tells certain people not to eat certain foods, they will do so; so he tells his clients to eat the foods, but to do so in moderation.
"We are in the holidays, and the temptation is basically free reign," said the proprietor of MacFit 360. "I encourage people to enjoy the holidays, but to remember that they have one life to live, and to enjoy it in moderation and to not forget to exercise after."
While he said he knows he has no control over what his clients are eating at home, there are a few staples in the Bahamian diet that Mackey said he encourages his clients to look out for and to indulge in sparingly -- peas and rice, potato salad and macaroni and cheese -- dishes he said they would probably find at every stop they make in the next two weeks.
"One of the things we love to eat is peas and rice -- that's like the head of the household on the plate, so I tell clients if they're going to eat peas and rice, to eat it in small portions [two spoonfuls] and to eat it off a small plate, because at every house they go to there's going to be peas and rice."
In most instances he said right next to the rice would be potato salad. He said the side dish will look good and that they will want some. He said they should make two spoonfuls suffice.
True-to-form the macaroni and cheese, which Mackey said he never recommends is always on the menu and he never advises his clients to add the dish to their plate with the peas and rice and potato salad. He described it as carbohydrate overload.
"I would normally tell them that if they can bypass it, to do so. But if they must eat it, to just taste it and walk away."
Knowing that taking a bite of macaroni and cheese and walking away is a tall order for most Bahamians, he said he tries to be realistic with his clients, knowing that they will indulge, and that a small portion is key.
"If they can subtract one, I encourage them to do so, and not do all three," he said. "I don't want them to deprive themselves, or to starve, but to choose wisely," said Mackey who through MacFit 360 looks to motivate, educate and inspire people to reach their optimal levels of performance and balance in life.
And if you can subtract one, and not do all three, subtract one.

Beware the alcohol and fruitcake
With alcohol and fruitcake at every party, Mackey said it's easy to pack in the calories without thinking about it.
"One beer is like 170 calories and people don't drink just one. They want four, five and six beers and the calories just add up...then we have the mixed drinks. I really don't recommend alcohol, but if they're going to drink anything, it should be a glass of red wine because studies have shown that red wine is good for the heart. If they have to have the beer, one or two is good, but the six-pack is a definite no-no."
After a six-course meal, the fruitcake, he said, is definitely a no. But for those people with a "sweet tooth" who don't seem to be able to resist, he said their slice should be no bigger than a deck of cards.
"The average meal for a Bahamian over the holiday, calorie count wise is definitely over 900 calories in one sitting, and if there's 3,500 calories in one pound of fat, you do the math -- it's going to be a lot of problems."

Protein and greens are good
The meat and seafood that people consume during the holidays are probably best because they're packed with protein, according to the fitness trainer. If you eat meat or fish -- whether it's chicken, turkey, ham, fish, or lobster, he encourages you to ensure that it's lean and that you opt for white meat portions. He said most people go wrong because they fry their meats and seafood.
He encourages his clients to not forget their greens and vegetables, and to use salad dressings sparingly.
"People really do go overboard with the dressings. I recommend a squeeze of lemon or lime over the salad because you're already going hard with the peas and rice, potato salad and macaroni and cheese, so let's try to cut back in certain areas."
While enjoying the indulgences of the season in moderation, he said they should not forget the exercise and that at least 30 minutes, even if it's in their own room at home is important.
"All you need is six-by-six -- do some jumping jacks, do some push-ups, do some crunches, do some jump squats," said Mackey. "I don't encourage breaks, because fitness never sleeps. I tell them I may be going on vacation, but they're not, so get up and give me 30 to 40 minutes of exercise and then have all the fun in the world. I encourage them to go out and dance because that's cardio."
Recalling a holiday horror story, he recalled a client who returned to the gym after taking a holiday break, and talking about all they had eaten in that brief period. On the scale he said the excessive intake translated into a 10-pound weight gain for that client.
With his core values to ignite his clients' passion for fitness, energize their spirit through fitness, and transform the way they look, feel and think, to make fitness a lifestyle, he said at the end of the day, it's about being healthy, and not about being skinny. He said it's about people loving the body they're in, but at the same time being conscious of how healthy they are.
"Once you live a lifestyle of health and fitness, everything basically falls into place," he said. "Enjoy the holidays, but remember that we have one life to live and to enjoy it in moderation, and do not forget to exercise."
Mackey who played basketball at the professional level in Europe for four years is the only National Academy of Sports Medicine certified master trainer in the Caribbean. He is also certified in nutrition, massage therapy and sports performance.
His studio is built around programs that combine personal training, sports performance, coaching, teaching and rehabilitation for people of all ages, shapes, sizes and motivations from elite athletes to weekend warriors.

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