Whenever Tristan Evelyn sees a track, she gets excited. It’s there she feels free like a bird and happy as she moves like the wind.
“I am a girl who loves sports, any sports you can possibly think of,” says the 17-year-old whose sprint idols are Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser and American Carmelita Jeter. From a young age, Tristan discovered she wanted to be an athlete more than anything else and since then she has been making steady strides towards her goal.
“At the age of eight, somewhere in my NAPSAC years, I fell in love with athletics. I remember there was a year I ran and I didn’t do so well and it broke my heart. I remember going to my parents and saying ‘I want to do better, I want to train with a club’ and I joined my uncle in Rising Stars.”
She readily admits that life as a young athlete is tough but she says she’s better for it.
“Being an athlete has instilled morals in me that I believe everyone should have as citizens – discipline, being helpful, hardworking. It has really helped to shape me as an individual.”
This year marked the fourth time Tristan competed at CARIFTA and she captured her first medal in her pet event, the 100m.
“I went through the preliminaries, had a good start. I just mainly wanted to place in the top two to get to the next round. Then I realized that I had an advantage to win the race as one of the fastest competitors in the race
“In the finals going up against everybody else, I knew that I had a start over the rest of the girls so I just wanted to capitalize on that, to get through the line and medal, and I did. I am very proud and happy for it. It was awesome,” she said with a broad smile.
Tristan is equally pleased with Barbados’ overall medal tally at CARIFTA. She believes local athletics is poised for even bigger things and suggests that authorities should focus on increasing meets for athletes to be better prepared for competition.
“For instance, the girls in the 100m and 200m here are good. I think we have a lot of talent here but we don’t get enough competition, we don’t get enough push and exposure. Nerves have a lot to do with performances overseas. Sometimes when we get up there with the best in the Caribbean and the world, then the nerves take over and we don’t perform to the best of our ability, so I would like to see officials bringing more athletes from the Caribbean so we can practise.
“I would also like to see better advertising of local meets so Barbadians can come out more and help support local athletes.”
Tristan is now working with her coach to review her performance at CARIFTA. She has also resumed training in preparation for the Barbados National Championships and then the Pan Am Games.
She says she intends to improve on her CARIFTA performance by putting hard work topped with a whole lot of faith.
“Before I go to the line, I always tell myself I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me and when training, I remind myself if you want to run like the boys, you have to train like the boys.”