Barbados’ outstanding long jumper and national record holder Akela Jones is determined to end her career as an Olympic champion and world record holder.
Jones, who currently holds all four records for Barbados in the women’s heptathlon, pentathlon, long jump and high jump, will depart the island in the next couple of days for Atlanta where she will be schooled by former American long jumper Dwight Phillips, a former four-time world champion and 2004 Olympic gold medallist.
After being off the radar for a protracted period of time, Jones, a former student of the Springer Memorial Secondary School, said following her last international meet in 2016, she had knee surgery in September 2017. Since then she has been going through rehabilitation in order to get herself back to training and competing again at an elite level.
The new Minister of Sport Dwight Sutherland, the Athletic Association of Barbados and Barbados Olympic Association, have all partnered to provide funding for Jones to travel to Atlanta. While there the 25-year-old is hoping to compete at a few meets and qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics.
“Every year it is a step closer to bettering my personal best. Going into this new camp it is going to be a major transition and a major shift into greatness.
“I always look for what’s next on my agenda and I have been scouting for coaches for the last three years. So, he (Dwight Phillips) just happens to be in a great location and with a great team and the budget that we have is going to be feasible there,” Jones said.
Unlike 2016 when she qualified for four events at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics but only competed in two (the high jump and heptathlon), this time around Jones will work to qualify just for the long jump.
“That’s always been in the works but it is now a different regime. You almost have to relearn a lot of things and you don’t want to learn them the wrong way again. Not saying that anything I did in the past was wrong but with developing techniques and everything you want to be on the cutting edge,” she added.
Gold medallist at the 2014 World Junior Championships in the long jump, Jones explained she has seen a major push to support athletes in Barbados, having been around for a while in track and field. She said: “I have definitely seen the development of sports in Barbados and a major push to support the athletes. I have been in the sport a very long time, so I have definitely seen a lot of progress from our associations locally and our ministries.”
Going forward Jones mentioned a list of things she would like to see for the development of sports in Barbados. She said it is her desire to see more women in sport, the urge to see a generational shift for sports in Barbados where arenas are full and people showing up for sporting events. Also, she wants to see a sports calendar and a more formal approach to sports in Barbados.
Jones indicated she would like to see more being done for track and field which is dear to her heart. Even though she declined to say much more or give any recommendation, Jones said she would love to see a boost of spirit for sport locally.
Confident that those behind the scene with evolving minds would slowly reform sports in Barbados, Jones said she envisioned all possibilities and no limits.
A former student at Kansas State University where she studied sociology with an interest in criminology, she has a long-term vision after retirement to become a UNICEF ambassador and create programs to keep children out of juvenile institutions.
“I just love to help out where I can and lend experience in the form of talking or inspiring kids where I can. Helping people, in general, is something that I definitely naturally do,” Jones explained.