Austin stars in prelim race despite falling twice
GRAZ, Austria — Jamaica’s ice speed skating coach Jacqueline Bennett had reason to be proud yesterday after watching Romaine Austin compete in a preliminary race at the Special Olympics Winter Games.
The determined Austin fell twice and picked himself up on both occasions to win his 500-metre race in 1:22 minutes, ahead of competition from the United States and Hong Kong inside the ice rink stadium here.
“He fell twice, but he got up and continued his race and he still won. That performance was in line with what others were doing,” Bennett told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
The preliminary races allow organisers to place competitors in divisions where they face opposition of similar strength to limit cases of lopsided victories when the official racing commences.
At the time of the interview, the coach was not able to definitively say what caused the two falls.
She explained that yesterday’s tight schedule meant rushing from the rink to prepare departure to last evening’s opening ceremony in Schladming, hence she was not able to consult with Austin immediately after the race.
“I didn’t ascertain what caused him to fall — whether it was his skating shoes or the surface — because we had to rush to leave for the opening ceremony,” she said.
There has been some talk that the marginally higher than usual temperatures this time of the year has contributed to the surface at the rink being a little slicker than expected.
Bennett, who historically coached Special Olympics Jamaica to two silver medals at the previous Winter Games in the Republic of Korea, said Austin remains in good spirits despite the double blip.
“He’s on par and we’re just waiting to see who he will line up against. Despite him falling, he has it in him to brush it off and come again. He isn’t broken or bothered at all. We’ll sit down and put the plan together,” Bennett insisted.
Austin will also compete in the 333m event. His teammate Dave Oddman is expected to line up in the divisional races for the 222m and 333m events today.
Both were also set to combine in the relay race, but that event has since been scrapped by organisers.
The Special Olympics provides year-round training and competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.