AS he prepares for his second season as an assistant coach with the Bears’ track and field team at the University of Northern Colorado, Leevan “Superman” Sands is eagerly looking forward to his final appearance at the Olympic Games.
Director of Track and Field and Cross Country Wayne Angel said he’s impressed with the 39-year-old Sands, who has already helped to land Wendira Moss and Craiesha Johnson on the Bears’ track team.
Moss, a sprinter from the 100 to 400 metres, represented the Bahamas at the World Junior Championships (Under-18) in Nairobi, Kenya, while Johnson competes in the 400m and 400m hurdles as well as the 4 x 400m relay.
While Angel welcomed the new signees, which include athletes from South Africa, the Bahamas and Tanzania with three members joining the men’s team and nine on the women’s team, he lauded Sands and another assistant Stormie Sickler for the role they both played in helping to make the Bears a vibrant programme this year.
Sands, the Bahamas 2008 Beijing Olympic triple jump bronze medallist who joined the Northern Colorado track and field staff in September, 2019, said his goal is to look out for as many Bahamian athletes as possible to be a part of the Bears’ programme at UNC.
“This is my second year here in Colorado and we have put together an excellent class of recruits,” Sands said. “It’s a pretty promising team with a few top 10 athletes in the conference, so we’re pretty excited.
“Wendira Moss was my first signee from the Bahamas. She signed at the end of last year. The release just came out and in that, we added Craiesha Johnson. I think they both will help out the programme tremendously.”
Sands said Angel has already indicated that he anticipates that with his experience in coaching quarter-milers and hurdlers, Moss and Johnson should run very well, once they get adapted to the high altitude in Colorado.
Those are the only two Bahamians on the programme, but Sands - a level 1 USATF certified coach - had the chance to work with some of the jumpers, who made their presence felt in the Big Sky Conference.
“I have a few other Bahamians that I’m trying to get here, but I won’t call their names until they’ve signed,” Sands said.
“So I’m looking forward to getting a Bahamian connection started here.”
The six-time World Championship competitor with a bronze in 2003 in Paris, France and a silver at the 2015 Pan American Games, is looking to add his fifth appearance at the Olympics in Tokyo, Japan next year to his trips in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016, the latter of which he was the flag bearer during the opening ceremonies.
“I’ve been training for about two months now and it’s been going pretty god,” Sands said. “I haven’t been able to do anything over the summer because of COVID-19 and the gyms being locked down over here. “But I started two months ago and everything has been going pretty good. My goal is to qualify for Tokyo.
“I’ve been saying I want to do one more Olympics, so this will be the last and final preparations for the Olympics.”
The 13-time national champion and current national record holder outdoors (17.59 metres or 57-feet, 81/2-inches), said in between his workout sessions with his two groups at the UNC, he manages to get his own personal workout done.
“I just have to time my schedule right,” he summed up. “I’m just looking forward to a great year with this new team. I think we will be able to compete with the top schools in the conference.”
The former basketball player, turned jumper while at Temple Christian Academy, went on to compete for Florida Air Academy before he enrolled at Auburn University where he was the NCAA long and triple jump champion in 2003 and 2004 respectively.
He also earned the SEC’s 2004 Scholar-Athlete of the Year honours.