By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
ALTHOUGH he has been forced to join the workforce to support his wife and daughter, quarter-miler Ashley Riley said he’s still looking to continue his athletic career with the goal of qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games.
Riley, a graduate of the CR Walker Secondary School, is in Louisiana where he’s employed with Target.
But he said he’s still looking for some financial assistance from the Bahamas Government to help him with his training at his alma mater at Southeastern Louisiana University. “I can still train at my former college,” said Riley, a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana. “I didn’t get to compete this year because the COVID-19 came, but it’s bearable now.”
After graduating from CR Walker Secondary High in 2012, Riley went to Colby Community College where he was a NJCAA All-American award winner in the 600m and on their 4 x 800.
The following year, he transferred to SLU where he became a All-Southland Conference 1st team indoor 4 x 400m champion in 2016 and in 2017, the LSWA All-Louisiana member on the 4 x 400m relay and Southland Conference Spring Commissioner’s Honour Roll.
Now married to Brishay and the father of Brai’lynn, Riley said his focus is on maintaining his family, but he’s not giving up on competing as a track athlete.
“I had a rough time since I graduated from college. I got an injury during my last year in college, but without the assistance of school and no subvention, it was tough, but I made the decision to keep going.
“It’s still a funding situation for me. You have to find the funding and everything you need to train and go to the meets to compete. I was still able to compete at a decent level, so it’s bearable, but it could have been a whole lot better.”
The conditions of COVID-19 were not as drastic as it was with the curfews and weekend lockdowns in the Bahamas for Riley in Louisiana, but he’s not complaining about his situation.
“We had some curfews, but it wasn’t that bad,” Riley reflected. “I was still able to do most things that I wanted. I pulled back from training until I am ready to start my offseason training, so I just concentrated on working for the time being.”
And in the midst of the pandemic, Riley said the social racism resurfaced with the death of American George Floyd, but he tried to avoid the protests and all of the events surrounding Black Lives Matter.
“The city that I am in is a bit small, so we’re not really affected by all of the riots and protests,” said Riley, who is stationed in Hammond. “But it’s affecting everyone seeing something like that happen.
“I think it’s a good outcome because they are making a lot of changes to the law with the Police, so it’s worked. But I didn’t want to get caught up in all of that, so I just went about my business and back home to my family.”
As he moves forward, Riley said whether or not he gets on the subvention that is provided by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, he’s looking forward to running in the 400m and the 4 x 400m relay team.
“I will get back into training and make the Olympic team. I’m glad that they pushed it back until next year,” he said Riley, who ran a personal best of 46.70 in 2017, his last year in college just before he got injured. “I feel it’s more suitable to everyone , including me because I can have more time to train.”
Riley, the son of Edwin and Shearine Riley, was a part of the RK Athletics Track Club that was formed last January in Arkansas by coach Bernard Newbold.
The club was formed to help Riley, Andre Colebrooke, Maverick Bowleg and Cliff Resias prepare for the 2019 World Championships. The club, however, has been dismantled after Colebrooke moved on to MVP International, a club with Henry Rolle; Maverick Bowleg returned home in New Providence and Resias and Ashley relocated to Louisiana.
Newbold said while all of the athletes are still committed to competing for the Bahamas, Riley is more committed right now to raising his family.
“It’s kind of hard for Ashley, being an athlete who secured a world indoor silver medal as a member of the 4 x 400m relay team and can not get any subvention as well. As a young father, he made the decision that his family comes first and track and field has to be on the back burner,” Newbold said.
“If we can get him some financial assistance or on subvention, he will be back this fall training,” said Newbold. “I spoke with him. He’s not given up. He said he will get back into training. But a guy of his caliber, but’s going to be tough working and training part-time. He’s a guy that can run 44 seconds easy if he can get the funding to train full time.”
Riley, a former Carifta medalist, competed for the Bahamas at the 2017 IAAF Bahamas World Relays; was a member of the silver medal 4 x 400m relay team at the IAAF World Indoor Championships and on the 4 x 400m relay team that took third at the IX NACAC Under-23 Championships in 2016.