By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
With his collegiate track and field season abruptly ended during the indoor season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, sprinter Samson Colebrooke said he has focused his attention on his studies as he goes through his experience in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Colebrooke, 22, was unable to return home before the Bahamas Government decided to close the borders when the pandemic arrived, leaving a number of students and Bahamian residents in the United States.
“For me personally, this gave me a lot of time to focus on things that I had neglected a bit,” Colebrooke said. “It gave me time to focus on school, it gave me time to focus on my personal life and it allowed me to build a good foundation for next year.”
The current Bahamian leading male sprinter was referring to the fact that he had qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games that has since been rescheduled for July 23 to August 8, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
“At one point, it was kind of disappointing, but when I look at the odds and everything, I feel like it’s going to work in my favour so that I can get other things in place and in order for the Olympics next year,” he said.
“We have a stay at home order, which means you pretty much have to stay at home and can only go out for essential things, if it’s necessary. So I’ve been staying at home and doing a lot of school work and trying to keep my body away from any type of sickness. I’m trying to stay healthy.”
The law major at Purdue University, where Bahamian Norbert Elliott serves as the head coach, said he plans to take advantage of the NCAA’s offer to allow senior student-athletes to return for the completion of their outdoor season next year.
“This year might be my senior year for track and field, but I still have to complete my academic requirements to graduate, so I might as well just continue my athletic career here.
“I think it was a good decision by the NCAA to allow those athletes who didn’t get to complete their senior year to come back and show what they were capable of doing. So it was a good idea and I think I’m going to take advantage of the opportunity.”
Last year at the NACAC Under-18 and Under-23 Championships in Queretaro, Mexico, where he got a silver medal in a photo finish in a time of 10.01 seconds, Colebrooke qualified for the men’s 100 metres for the Olympics. He was slowly building up for his outdoor season, having produced lifetime best times of 6.65 in the 60m and 21.8 in the 200m.
But he said he would have liked to see how well those times would have translated for him when he went outdoors. It’s one of those untold stories for the aspiring professional track athlete.
“Like they told us, we are student-athletes, so this gives us a good chance to focus on our academics,” said Colebrooke about the interruption in his athletic season.
“This has allowed us to put athletics on the side for the time being and just focus on our academics.
“I think this has also allowed us to focus on our mental capacities because we have been dealing so much with athletics from last September-October to now. It was a lot. So we can take a break and work on a lot of stuff that we need to before we get ready for next year.”
With his ultimate goal of competing at the Olympics next year, Colebrooke said as soon as the pandemic is over and they’re given the green light to move around, his first priority will be to visit church where he hopes to one day become a pastor.
“If the offer presents itself, I would love to get a contract with a major shoe company,” he said. “I know I want to continue in the sport as a professional athlete because I have gotten to like competing so much.”
The Queen’s College graduate, who attended Barton Community College for two years before he got a scholarship at Purdue, said he would love to come home and visit with his family after he was unable to leave the United States before the country shut down.
“The whole world didn’t know this was coming,” he said. “So my plan was to stay here and when school reopened, I would go back to school. But when the situation started to get worse, there was no way for me to get home.
“It was good that the Bahamas closed the borders and not allow too many people to come there and maybe bring the virus with them,” he said. “I just decided to stay here in Indiana. But I can’t really leave my apartment, so I feel just like you do over there.”
Although he misses his family, including his parents Modesta and Sheniqua Colebrooke, as well as his siblings, the Exuma native took the time out to encourage Bahamians to stay safe during the pandemic.
“Stay at home, enjoy your family in your household and stay safe,” he said. “Trust God in this process. We will make it through this. I know that he will never leave us or forsake us. He will take us through this.”
And hopefully when it’s all said and done, Colebrooke will resume his track career and his bid to represent the country at next year’s Olympics in the sprints and possibly as a member of the men’s 4 x 100 metre relay team.
Colebrooke leads the Bahamian sprint core, sitting behind retired national record holder and current college coach Derrick Atkins, who ran 9.91 to earn a silver medal at the World Championships in Osaka, Japan, in 2007.