FACE TO FACE: Devynne Charlton – chasing her dreams

Devynne Charlton poses after winning the gold medal setting a new world record in the women's 60 metres hurdles final during the World Athletics Indoor Championships at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, Scotland. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Devynne Charlton poses after winning the gold medal setting a new world record in the women's 60 metres hurdles final during the World Athletics Indoor Championships at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, Scotland. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)




DEVYNNE posing with her first tuna ever caught during a family fishing trip in Long Island, The Bahamas.


DEVYNNE with her beloved dog Mila.


WORLD indoor 60m hurdles champion Devynne Charlton with her mother, Laura and sister, Anthaya having Christmas breakfast.


DEVYNNE and her mother, Laura, in Hawaii during training camp for the Tokyo Olympics.


DEVYNNE CHARLTON, (standing, far right) during the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro with fellow athletes, Bianca Stuart, Pedraya Seymour, and her sister, Anthaya Charlton.


DEVYNNE and her father, David Charlton, during the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.


DEVYNNE Charlton and Carmeisha Cox during their days competing in track and field at Purdue University. Devynne’s parents, David and Laura are cheering them on.


Devynne Charlton, (second from right) on a family fishing trip in Long Island, The Bahamas.


EXTREMELY humble, highly motivated, and distinctively disciplined, Devynne Charlton has all of the right ingredients that make up a world champion. With a twinkle in her eye and a dimple in her smile, she is not only blazing a trail on the world stage in track and field, she has also warmed the hearts of everyone at home in The Bahamas.

Fresh back home in Nassau after her trip to Glasgow, Scotland, Devynne spoke to me from her family homestead, where she is resting, recuperating, and preparing to reach even higher heights in her career.

She broke the 60m hurdles world record for the second time in three weeks at the World Athletics Indoor Championships 2024 in Glasgow, clocking 7.65 seconds for her first global career title.

After intense training, heated competition and a stringent diet, what was Devynne craving when she landed back home on Bahamian soil? Some good ‘ole peas soup and dumplings! It’s a dish that her grandmother, the late Isabell Pratt, used to make for her, and it’s still a comfort food today.

Even though Devynne grew up in Nassau, she had the opportunity to spend quality time in the Family Islands in her formative years, which helped to mold her into the successful woman she is today.

“Before I started doing CARIFTA, I would go to Cat Island every Easter with my grammy,” Devynne reminisced.

Her grandmother, whose maiden name is Johnson, made sure that Devynne had the opportunity to be steeped in island life in the land from where her family hailed.

Her father is renowned Bahamian athlete and coach David Charlton, and her mother is noted pharmacist and businesswoman, Laura Pratt-Charlton. The Charltons hail from Mayaguana, and she has had the opportunity to visit that enchanted isle at least once so far in her life. The Pratts are from Long Island, and there, she enjoys annual family vacations with her parents and her sister, Anthaya.

With this well-rounded experience of real Bahamian island life, Devynne is an excellent ambassador for her country. She proudly displays her Bahamian flag as she travels the world competing. This naturally leads to tons of conversations about her beloved homeland.

“I always encourage people to get out and try to see every island in The Bahamas,” she said.

“Taking a cruise into Nassau is one thing. If you’re looking for a high-paced destination with a nightlife, then yes, Nassau is it. But there is so much more to The Bahamas. If you want that quiet, laid back life, or if you’re into fishing or hunting, visit the Family Islands. There are so many things to do in The Bahamas, and different islands cater to different things. So, don’t limit yourself!”

The support and love she receives from her close knit family plays an important role in her success. Her parents have been her biggest fans. Viral videos circulate - not only with Devynne dominating the track, but with her parents, overwhelmed with joy and pride - cheering her on. We all felt the emotions her mom went through as we watched her rubbing her daughter’s face when she clocked 7.6 seconds for the third time. We saw her dad gripping his chair, overwhelmed as he looked at the clock and realised that he was witnessing a monumental moment and his daughter was the history-maker.

David represented The Bahamas at the very first World Championships, outdoors in Helsinki in 1983. He has been named head coach of Team Bahamas for the World Athletics Relays Bahamas 24, which is slated for May 4-5 at the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium.

His specialty is the hurdles; so I asked him how he feels about his daughter’s massive success in the sport he holds dear: “Words cannot describe how I felt the day she broke the record in New York. Someone who was sitting about 2 or 3 chairs down from Laura and I, they were just videotaping... that video captured the essence of what Laura and I felt at that time. That was one of the greatest feelings we have had since the birth of our kids. It’s just an honor to see your child reach the pinnacle of her career with a world record, knowing what she has gone through over the years in terms of preparing her body for such a feat. She has really paid the price. She has put in the time, the work, and the effort, so it’s heartwarming to see it all come true.”

“Laura and I have been on an emotional high since that day, and then to turn around and see her do it on the world stage in Glasgow - we couldn’t ask for more. It’s almost like a story book. We are looking forward to greater things and she is willing to do the work to win the big one. The Olympic medal would be the icing on the cake! We are certainly proud of her as we are with all our daughters.”

“I want to keep improving,” Devynne told me.

“What I was able to do indoors, I want to replicate outdoors in Paris.”

The Paris 2024 Summer Olympic Games are slated for July 26 to August 11, 2024.

Devynne wants young student athletes to know that even if they aren’t winning their races now, they should never give up on their dreams.

When Devynne was attending St Augustine’s College (SAC), Devynne competed in more than just track and field. She also played basketball, and she competed in swimming, even at the BAISS level, having the opportunity to travel with her team. She served as captain of Seton House during her last two years of high school, giving her an opportunity to participate in the management of all sports that SAC students are involved in.

“In track and field, I started with the 100 and 200 metres, long jump and the 4x100 metres... then I branched out into hurdles,” Devynne said.

“Even though I had won a couple BAISS events, I wasn’t an extraordinary athlete. I started hurdling when I was 14 or 15. Dad was a hurdle coach. I kept doing it and it emerged as my better event. I really didn’t start specialising in hurdles until after college (Purdue University).”

Last week, she attended the BAISS championships to tell the SAC athletes just that: “I let them know how I put in the work, so that they could know how realistic this is and where I really started from.”

“I had a good time! I was at BAISS last year as well; I came home for my niece’s birthday party. This year when I came home, I was able to speak to the team. I gave them a few words of encouragement and some tips about competing in high pressure situations. They were down by a significant amount of points. I had to encourage them and let them know I started off right where they are.”

SAC Alumni President Dr Anastasia Brown believes this motivational speech from Devynne rallied the athletes to give it their all, and they emerged victorious.

“We believe that Deynne’s rallying a SAC chant ignited a fire within the SAC athletes during the last day of BAISS,” Brown said.

“With Devynne’s words ringing in their ears, SAC athletes took to the track with a renewed sense of purpose, leaving everything they had on the field. As the final events concluded and the scores were tallied, St. Augustine’s College emerged victorious, reclaiming the BAISS championship title once again.”

“In that moment of victory, Devynne’s shoutout to her alma mater had inspired her fellow SACERS to greatness. It reaffirmed the enduring bond between SAC and its proud alumni, a bond that would continue to fuel success for generations to come.”

For Devynne, it was a different feel - being on the other end of the track. She was in the bleachers, cheering on the SAC team, and dancing to Junkanoo.”

She credits SAC for providing great grounds for character building: “Some of the most impactful people in my life were my teachers at SAC. They were not just there doing a job; they were concerned about the people we would become. They wanted to make sure we were well adjusted and ready to face life beyond graduation - whether it was trade school, or college, or work - they wanted to make sure we had the tools we needed to succeed.”

She gave special thanks to former principal Sonja Knowles for her enduring support, encouraging her during high school and beyond.

With her eyes set on the Paris Olympics, Devynne will be giving it her all. With the love of family, support of friends and old scholars, and the love of the entire nation, she’s expected to fly over hurdles, making us all proud.


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