THEY say behind every man is a good woman. Well, behind every great athlete is a great mom. Cheryl Skeen is no exception to this adage. She is mother to Odean Skeen, World Youth Olympic champion and student at Wolmer's Boys' School.
Skeen says Odean displayed talent from as early as four years old and seems to get even better as the years go by. A former athlete herself, she was a medal winner for her alma mater, Tivoli Gardens Comprehensive High School, at the Girls' Championships.
She recounts how excited she gets each time Odean participates in a track meet. She has been there through injuries and more, and has done extensive research to ensure that he is following all the rules.
Skeen knows well that proper nutrition is an integral component in high-performance athletes, and as such avails herself of the relevant information so that she can monitor what Odean consumes. In this she works alongside his coach and is heavily involved in his training programme. She explains that she tries to attend every track meet and training session along with his father, Odean Sr, who was an athlete at Excelsior High School.
Skeen says Odean, 17, is also an excellent chef in the making who has plans to pursue formal training in the culinary arts in Europe and own his own restaurant when he hangs up his spikes, which he hopes will not be anytime soon. Of course being a student at Wolmers', he has to maintain a balance between academics and track, and his mother is very involved in ensuring he's compliant.
She concedes that it is a lot of work juggling her responsibilities and is proud to share that her younger son Xavier, who is eight years old and attends Hydel Preparatory School, is also involved in track and field. He shows signs of following in his brother's footsteps. Xavier, she says, is also interested in hurdles and long jump. She says that it is like starting the process all over again, but she does not mind the work. Although it is tiring, Skeen enjoys what she does.
Skeen says family support is very important to athletes and she wants to ensure that she is around to provide the necessary motivation that is needed at this stage of her sons' lives.
When she is not cheering her boys along, she volunteers at track meets and does marshalling duties.
She has served as secretary for the Wolmers' Boys' Track and Field Management Team, president of the Kensington Basic School PTA body when her younger son attended the school; and is also involved in the Queens Park Citizens Association where she has served as secretary for over 10 years.
She says track and field is her passion and she will continue to serve in any capacity as long as her services are needed.