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Golden girl looking for greater things

Golden girl looking for greater things

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Vincentian Natasha Mayers, who eventually won the gold medal in the Women’s 100 metres at the just concluded Commonwealth Games in India, says that she is looking favourably at the World Championships and the 2012 Olympics.{{more}}

And, she is not ruling out medaling, but acknowledges that it will take a great deal of work and financial support.

In an interview with SEARCHLIGHT via telephone last Friday from her California home, Mayers said that the gold medal she won in India is a dream come true.

“I see an Olympic medal and one at the World Championships in the making,” Mayers said.

Counting the Indian experience as the highlight of her career thus far, Mayers on Thursday, October 7, at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Dehli, India, crossed the finish line in third position in 11.37 seconds.

But, Australian Sally Pearson, who finished first was disqualified for a false start. Osayemi Oludamola of Nigeria, who was second, was promoted to gold and Mayers to silver.

Another twist was to follow, when both of Oludamola’s drug test samples were positive and she was stripped, thus landing Mayers the gold medal.

Mayers, however, said that she was confident all along about coming back from the Games with a medal.

She said that she was training very hard leading up to the Commonwealth Games and was clocking about 11.5 seconds consistently.

“Before the race, I was telling Miss (Jacintha) Ballantyne (the Chief of Mission) to prepare the flag, because I was going to get a medal.”

“I did it not for me, but for St. Vincent and the Grenadines. I love my country”, Mayers said with glee in her voice.

Rough road

Mayers related to SEARCHLIGHT that the journey back to top form was mentally draining after she was banned for two years by the IAAF, from 2005

to 2007, for what she termed having levels which were “too high”.

It was widely reported that Mayers, in a positive drug test in an out of season competition in April 2005, showed a level of close to nine – more than twice the legal amount of testosterone permitted in the body.

Mayers, though, is refuting that claim, stating that what the letter to her stated then was an “elevated level”.

“There were no explanations. I was ignorant and there was no support for me, but I just put that behind and decided to move forward with my life,” she said.

“It was very difficult, I lost my contract, I had no coach, so whatever I had to do to train,I had to do it with my own money, as there was no support,” Mayers, now a US citizen, said.

“But I knew what was required: the proper massages, the right chiropratics and the right competitions needed,” she said.

The 31-year-old, who left these shores at age 11, then named Natasha Joe, said that she had to draw on her experiences while growing up as a child here in Mount Pleasant, Mesopotamia, to gain strength.

“I know what it is to work hard to get what I want, having to go the Majorca Mountains to work on the land to get stuff to sell in the market in Kingstown,” Mayers recalled.

Mayers, who is now a certified teacher, told SEARCHLIGHT that the extra push to get up and start training seriously once more came in 2009 when her five-year-old brother died. She said that traumatic experience made her want to live life to the fullest.

“I was teaching at the time and love teaching, but I realised I was not accomplishing my goal. That experience made me realise that life is short, tomorrow is not promised. So I finished the school year, and went back into track and field full time.”

Looking ahead

Well aware that she will have to do a lot of training if she wishes to mount the podium at the next major Track and Field events, Mayers wants the relevant authorities here to give her that financial support needed to make it a reality.

She acknowledges that her current times will not do the trick, but with intense work and proper support systems, she feels she can do well.

At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Mayers did not advance past the heats, and at the 2001 World Championships in Edmonton, she advanced to the semi-finals before being eliminated, finishing seventh in the semi-final with a time of 11.35.

At the 28th Olympic Games, held in Athens, Greece, in 2004, an injury forced her out of the next round of competition.

Mayers is expected to receive her Commonwealth Games gold medal at a special ceremony to be held here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in December of this year.

In addition to being a full time athlete, Mayers is presently working on her Master’s degree in Education. She holds a bachelor’s degree in History /Social Sciences from the University of Southern California. (RT)