Juliet Cuthbert after retirement
There is life after track and field. Jamaican Olympian Juliet Cuthbert has proven that much. Since her retirement from active competition in 1999, Juliet has spread her wings.
Juliet speaks of her retirement as something that was forced upon her at age 35 due to injury. At that point Cuthbert had been to five Olympics, the most recent being the Atlanta Games in 1996. Juliet says retiring due to injury, two years before she had actually planned was one of the worst feelings she has ever experienced, "That traumatised the heck out of me. It was traumatic because I wasn't prepared to retire, therefore, I had a couple of years of planning where saving was concerned...it was more abrupt than anything else."
Juliet's retirement had come after a career, which spanned more than 25 years starting at Port Morant All Age and then Morant Bay High School, after being recruited by former principal Howard Jackson.
After only two years at Morant Bay she went to live with her mother in the United States and later gained a scholarship to the University of Texas before she began representing Jamaica internationally.
Juliet says she was not happy with that initial move, "I didn't want to migrate, it was my mother...we had no choice, we had to go," she said. Cuthbert says for all intents and purposes she didn't know her mother until she was 16 years old and even now it impacts on their relationship, " It's not a very close bond, my mother has never really seen me compete, she wasn't there for me when I was younger so the bond is not there really."
For the better part of two years after retirement Juliet was forced to live on savings she had put aside, without a job and spending close to US $3000 per month. However, out of those experiences Juliet emerged stronger than before and returned to Jamaica to live. During that period she also got married but has since divorced.
It was upon her return to Jamaica that things began to turn around for the athlete. As she puts it though she would have survived no matter what, "As long as I have two legs and as long as I have health and strength there's no way my life's gonna be hopeless."
She first returned home to take up a position at Western Sports as marketing manager promoting their PUMA brand. It was then that she was 'discovered' by Ed Barnes who brought her into television to do analysis at track and field meetings.
She was later recruited by then programmes manager at KLAS FM, Ed Wallace, to work at a VMBS Boys' and Girls' Championships. Chairman Alston Stewart then asked her to be a regular presenter for the daily sports talk programme Scoreboard.
She currently hosts the programme three times a week on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Juliet says the transition from part-time analyst to full-time host was not as tough as it might have been, "It wasn't that difficult. I knew they talked about a lot of cricket, which I knew nothing about. So I knew it was going to be challenging." She however turned to a friend to help her with the finer points of understanding the game.
"I knew he hated me at times because I would ask the same thing over and over again but I didn't want to come on radio and sound like a total idiot," she told all woman.
Juliet says her co-hosts on Scoreboard, Maurice Foster and HG Helps have been a source of support and strength for her. In fact, she says since retiring the most fulfilling part of her life has been her job as a co-anchor on Scoreboard.
Juliet still works as an analyst during athletics meets and last year went on her first overseas assignment representing the radio station at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia. In addition, she maintains a consultant position with Western Sports.
Juliet has spread her wings once again and this time it is in an even broader area at Media, Sports, and Entertainment where she has been working since January.
She says that close bond she didn't share with her own parents has made it all the more essential for her to have a close bond with her own son. "Everybody hear me talk about Troy...And they know his name and that's because of the bond, the closeness that we share."
Juliet looks forward to an extended career in the media and there seems to be nothing stopping her.
"Whatever you want to do in life, you have to put yourself in the position to make it happen for you and I think that is what I did. I wanted to make it happen and I learned as much as I could," she says.
Dania Bogle is a sports journalist working with KLAS Sports Radio.