Former Cornwall College athlete disappointed over Olympics, World Indoors cancellations due to COVID-19

Observer West writer

Thursday, April 02, 2020

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After extending his stay at Texas Tech University to prepare for both the World Athletics (formerly IAAF) World Indoors and the Olympics Games, only to have both doors slammed in his face due to the COVID-19 pandemic, former Cornwall College jumper Odaine Lewis is now considering whether he will pursue a professional career.

Lewis, who was part of the outstanding Cornwall College jumps group that dominated the COCAA Western Champs for years, told the Jamaica Observer West earlier this week he felt “heartbroken” by the postponement of both events at a time when he felt he was in a position to force his way into the senior national set-up.

“Personally, the postponement of the Olympics really blurred the vision to continue on as an athlete. “The only reason I took an extra semester in school was to see if I could secure a professional contract and being able to continue in the sport,” he said.

Lewis, who had a successful college career which ended with him being part of the first NCAA Division One outdoors championship team last year - the first ever national champions at Texas Tech - had won two National Junior College indoors triple jump titles while at Iowa Central before moving to Texas Tech where he was Big 12 long jump champion, runner- up at the Outdoors national championships in the triple jump and third in the long jump in 2018 as well as runner-up in the indoors triple jump to compatriot Jordan Scott of the University of Virginia last year.

The former Cornwall College daCosta Cup football player who recently graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Sciences was also Academic All-American, has personal best marks of 7.99m in the long jump and 16.69m in the triple jump indoors and 8.09m and 16.73m respectively outdoors.

He was also a four-time all-American in both of his two seasons at Texas Tech, twice indoors and twice outdoors, despite jumping in only three meets in his injury ravaged senior season.

Lewis, who made his first senior team in 2018 when he was selected for the Central American and Caribbean Games, but twisted his ankle on his first jump, told the Observer West that he had built on a “fairly good year last season inspite of injuries” and was looking forward to donning the black, gold and green.

“I'm very much disappointed, I had an awesome pre-season, my season was going on well. I was aiming to make the indoor worlds' team, but that got postponed. I decided to shut the indoor down and focus on the Olympics and to hear that it got pushed back to 2021 was just heartbroken because it was the only reason I stayed in school an extra semester due to not getting a contract last year,” he said.

A disappointed Lewis said he was now considering his next move. “At this point I might just have to go in the working world as I am not really seeing any other options,” he noted.

Between 2014 and 2015, Lewis made all the national junior teams, winning gold in the Under-20 triple jump at the CARIFTA Games and also won gold at the Central America and Caribbean Juniors, became the first Cornwall College athlete to compete at a global track and field championship when he participated in the World Under-20 championships held at the historic Hayward Field on the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon.

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