Train hard and win easy.
If anyone knows this well, it’s 16-year-old Rivaldo Leacock, who believes and lives by this mantra. Rivaldo dominated the Under 18 400 metre hurdles at the just concluded CARIFTA games held in St Kitts.
After drawing lane eight, the petit Lester Vaughn school student obliterated the pack to emerge victorious. He told Barbados TODAY going into the race he was very confident and thrilled that he came out victorious.
“I was very confident going into the race so I just went out there and executed it well. I really didn’t know anyone in the race so I didn’t think I had any competition. The race was well executed I ran very hard and I maintained my lead then about 300 meters to go I realized I was still in the lead so I continued to run and I was successful,” he said.
Describing his entire CARIFTA experience, Rivaldo said it was one of growth for him.
“This CARIFTA was one of challenges and learning how to overcome obstacles to realize my dreams but over all it was a great experiences for me. I just love the thrill of competing so I go out there and do my best,” he explained.
Leading up to CARIFTA, Rivaldo explained that it was quite stressful, especially having to balance training and school. But he admitted that he had one goal in mind and was willing to do all he had to, in order to reap success.
“CARIFTA training was very hard. A lot of sleepless nights. Waking up very early to go training at Farley Hill. A lot of endurance running sprints. A many other things. But I had to do what I had to do,” Rivaldo said with a smile. ‘
And for his success, he knew it was not a ‘one man show’, and offered much thanks to all those who have had a hand in his career and success thus far.
“I would like to thank my mom, dad, coaches, my school and my club Rising Stars, they have all supported me and helped me to get to where I am today,” the unassuming athlete said.
And now, he has his sights set on achieving even greater things. There is no such thing as down time for Rivaldo, because he is already back at training looking to better himself.
“I feel very good about myself right now. I’m just going to go back to the drawing board and keep training hard in order to win more medals. My ultimate goal is to become an Olympian,” he said.
And while there may be a misconception that athletes grades tend to suffer, Rivaldo is here to prove them wrong. He told Barbados TODAY that his grades were good and admitted that he was putting in all the necessary work to make sure his grades did not slip.
“I’ve been going to lessons and putting in the extra work needed so my grades are good. I’m doing seven CXC’s this year. Sometimes its hard balancing school and athletics but you just have to find the right balance within the school setting,” he said, while taking a break from vacation lessons to do the interview.
And his coach Alwyn Babb, who is over the moon about Rivaldo’s success, said he believes he has found the right balance and with greater support he can go even further.
“He also finished first in class on several occasions. So it would appear that he is definitely finding the balance between the academics and the sports,” Babb said.
With regard to Rivaldo’s CARIFTA success, Babb said he always knew he could do it.
“The clock seldom lies. Based on his time coming into the 400 hurdles at CARIFTA, he was much better than the others. That shows that even though he was placed in lane 8 he was able to beat the others by such a convincing margin,” he said.
Babb added that he believes Rivaldo can go the distance and bring home an Olympic medal for Barbados in the near future.
“I believe Rivaldo at this point in his career can conquer the Junior World, he has World Youth, we are looking to add that gold medal to the tally, I believe there is Commonwealth youth later in the year and once he remains healthy we are going to conquer that as well and long term I see Rivaldo as one of the athletes having the potential to give Barbados an Olympic medal in the 400 hurdles. All the systems are in place to ensure that happens. I want to encourage all the stakeholders to make sure they rally behind him and give him the necessary support that he needs to make that a reality,” Babb said of the young athlete.