Guyana, a country undoubtedly beaming with talented sportsmen and women, more often than not finds one thing challenging: transferring domestic dominance to the international stage.
Luckily for the Land of Many Waters, gold was struck when Chicago- born Triple Jumper Troy Doris decided to form an alliance with his ancestral ties.
He started the world-stardom ball rolling with a seventh place finish at the Rio Olympics, and just over a week ago, he added both icing and candles on the cake with a Commonwealth Games gold medal.
The medal was the first for Guyana since Aliann Pompey claimed the women’s 400 metres title at the games in Manchester, England in 2002, and that’s 16 years ago.
His wining jump at the 21st edition of Games in Australia was by far not his best. The jump which brought the gold medal was 16.88 metres. His personal best is 17.18m.
It is certainly not to take anything away from his monumental feat, since athletes have certain periods when they peak, but it does show that the 29-year-old is medal quality even when not at his best; and while having a minuscule presence in Guyana, he has gigantic nostalgic connection.
“When I got my title, it was a feeling of joy. I was happy to carry the flag around the track. Putting so much work into the one moment, and it finally came true had so many emotions. Kind of my motivation at the Games was that I didn’t want to hear any other anthem played in my event”, he expressed to this media group in a recent interview.
Not devaluing the performances of track star Brenessa Thompson in the United States, or the “never say never” attitude of Winston George and those of the past, Doris’s effort has helped Guyana into the infancy stages of world recognition in athletics, and it’s now time to build on this toehold.
“Being the lone wolf for Guyana in international meets is a lot of positive pressure. It gives me the energy to compete. I want to be in the top four when they show the results, I want the announcer to say, ‘Troy Doris from Guyana’. Doing well for the country is always important,” Doris conveyed.
Doris, a Political Science graduate from the University of Iowa, said there is not much financial allure in representing Guyana, but he still chose to channel his energies in that direction. Albeit, athletes can receive at stipend from the Guyana Olympic Association.
“The decision to represent Guyana was mine ultimately. My career could have been aimed to represent United States, but as an athlete it is best to represent your country to the best of your ability, and I always reflect on having all of these Guyana roots, which makes me feel at home”, Doris said.
The big question is can he replicate his performance at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games? For Doris, now is just about re-grouping and not looking too far ahead, since a world of unknowns is on the horizon.
“The big picture is the Olympics 2020. It is a long time from now, and anything can happen, athletes can emerge from anywhere. You have to be willing to sacrifice time from now, with your mind on whether you want a place in the finals or whether you want a place on the podium,” he said.
His shockwave performance even got the attention of President David Granger, who expressed via a release to the media: “The win has made every Guyanese exceedingly proud, and demonstrates that with hard work and sacrifice, great feats can be accomplished.”
Given that his winning leap stands at sixth best in the world, maybe, just maybe, those in high office can plot for Doris a financial course which leads to 2020, and the hope – while ambitious – of hearing the national anthem being played. (Akeem Greene)