US-based J'can gymnast Faulkner keeps Olympic flame burning

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US-based J'can gymnast Faulkner keeps Olympic flame burning

Friday, August 14, 2020

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All his time representing Jamaica in artistic gymnastics, Caleb Faulkner's fortitude has rarely been tested as much as it is now by the uncertainty and adversity brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But with sheer grit and stubborn determination, Faulkner continues to endure with courage while planning for a positive future, which he hopes will see him competing at next summer's Olympic Games in Tokyo.

In fact, Faulkner, 26, is of the view that no pain that is suffered, and no trial experienced is wasted. Instead, he believes it ministers to our education and to the development of qualities such as patience, faith, fortitude and humility.

“With the Olympics being pushed back, I see the remainder of the year as a time for extra preparation and developing some more difficult routines, hopefully. It also means I can really focus on 'rehabbing' and reinforcing strength in some areas that I've had injuries or weaknesses,” said Faulkner, who first represented Jamaica at the 2015 World Championships.

“Staying motivated has definitely been a challenge, but with no immediate competitions, I began to look at it as a chance to focus more on why I love gymnastics. Focusing on the smaller details in the handstand, and trying new ways of gymnastics basic strength became a daily practice that I looked forward to and kept my spirits up even with the future of our sport unknown,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

In 2016, American-based Toni-Ann Williams became the first Jamaican to qualify for and represent the country at the Olympic Games, while English-born Danusia Francis became the second athlete to qualify for the Games, which should have been held this year, but has been postponed to next summer in Tokyo, Japan, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

To have athletes qualify for back-to-back Olympic Games in what is considered to be a minor sport in the country, is a big deal and American-born Faulkner, along with England-based Reiss Beckford, are determined to keep the trend going.

Faulkner, whose mother is Jamaican, pointed out that he continues to draw inspiration from the overwhelming support and pride of his family in the push to bring his Olympic dream to fruition.

“Everyone on my mom's side of the family was always very supportive and proud of my gymnastics competitions growing up and that has inspired me to keep going because I want to represent the family heritage in sport,” Faulkner noted.

“So for the remainder of this year, my goals and expectations are to build slowly back into the shape and condition I was in while I was preparing for the Olympic Qualifier.

“It's still unknown what the future holds in terms of if there will need to be another lockdown or what will happen with this virus, but as of now, my mental sights and goals are focused as if the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games will happen and I'll prepare to the best of my abilities to qualify,” he added.

Faulkner, who last paraded his skills at the World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany last year, said his coaching background also played an instrumental role in keeping him grounded during the lockdown.

“The virus has definitely presented a lot of changes, both positive and negative. I had to shift my work as a strength and conditioning coach from in person to completely online and create a plan for myself to continue my own training based on the home equipment I had so I could maintain as much of my gymnastics skills as possible,” he reasoned.

“It was pretty stressful in the beginning, but once I got the schedule consistent and settled into a routine, the quarantine became more manageable. So I helped clientele with their own challenge and I also assisted with some online sessions for Jamaica and other gymnastics facilities, which was very fulfilling as it was a way to give back and spread some positivity during such a stressful and scary time,” Faulkner ended.


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