Pascal training hard for kudos

 

Alex Pascal had a phenomenal July on the track. He threw two personal bests in the javelin event in France and Florida. 

The Pease Bay, Bodden Town native took part in the World Youth Championships and the Pan American Junior Championships (where he placed ninth overall). The result is he is now ranked second in javelin throughout the Caribbean. 

For Pascal, 16, the strides he has made is amazing considering his brief time in the sport. 

“Last year was when I started and in just over a year I’ve been to every single meet possible,” Pascal said. “I do javelin, baseball and karate, with baseball something I’ve done all my life. My coaches have always told me I had a strong arm so I looked at javelin and thought I might as well try it. My dad (Richard Pascal) got me into it and the first time I threw 35 feet. National track coach Kenrick Williams simply said I will be a javelin thrower. 

“In baseball I’m a centre fielder and I find javelin helps with my throws from the outfield to home plate. I do that about once a game. On the other hand baseball helps me with my arm speed for javelin. Since the javelin is heavier than a baseball, I find it helps me get my arm around quicker.” 

Pascal, who turns 17 in October, first broke onto the national stage during last year’s CARIFTA Games here in Cayman. He would tackle the javelin event alongside Mauricio Terry (who has since shifted his focus to other areas). Though Pascal did not win, he states that CARIFTA showing propelled him ahead. 

“From months before CARIFTA I was really nervous. That was my first ever big meet. I kind of knew I wouldn’t get first but I wanted a personal best. I ended up throwing around 51m. Two months later I competed at the Central American and Caribbean Games. I felt confident I’d get a medal and I threw 57.44m. I got fourth with that and just missed a medal because third place had a 57.45m throw. 

“I’m throwing around 62m now and I’m definitely stronger. It’s about the technique, I was lacking in that before. Ideally I want to go to a javelin camp or get a specific javelin coach. It’s my footwork that needs help because I’m not planting. I feel I could be in more tournaments if I can figure out how to use my legs. Right now I’m throwing from the waist up while the pros go from the toes up.” 

Technical director for Cayman athletics Kenrick Williams saw Pascal take gold at this summer’s Miami Classic. The man who first spotted Pascal’s talent states CARIFTA was his turning point.  

“The 2010 CARIFTA helped him a lot,” Williams said. “He did a personal best throw here in Cayman. That experience opened his eyes to maintaining that level of competitiveness; which helped him this year.” 

Pascal now has about a month to rest and prepare for the Commonwealth Youth Games. That competition takes place in September in the United Kingdom’s Isle of Man. A big part of his training will be hitting the gym, specifically Body Sculptor fitness centre under the watchful eyes of owner Ernest Ebanks and trainer Verse ‘Bruce’ Mangatam. Pascal states building strength, especially in his arm, will be a necessity going forward. 

“In the gym I train every single part of my body. Javelin is the most technical sport for me. Technique accounts for 60 per cent of your throws and the other 40 per cent is about power. You need the technique above all else to make the javelin go far. 

“With the training I also watch my diet. I can’t eat fast food all of the time (not everyday or every week). I need a lot of protein like chicken. Often times my dad brings food for me from home prepared from scratch. Nothing beats good cooked food anyway.” 

Dad Richard is one of the big supporters of Alex’s efforts. He states his son’s performances this month reaffirm the fact that he is among the elite hurlers in the region. 

“He’s not far off from the best and he is still learning,” Richard said. “We’re looking at another meet on 10 August in Colombia or Cuba that would give him more exposure for September. Out of the two his world championship performance was very impressive. It was raining there, cold and he was up against a lot of 18 and 19 year-olds. He had no warm gear, he was stiff and he threw the wrong javelin at one point. Considering his technique was out of whack at times, it’s incredible he had a personal best. 

“Also the Cuban and French coaches there showed interest in him. They said he needs to work on his weight training. But he can build up his power in good time.” 

In the meantime Pascal is slated to practice at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex in George Town. He states in the future he would like to see more people come out and try the sport. 

“Unfortunately when I’m here, I’m doing the javelin with no competition. No one is pushing me and it’s no fun throwing by myself against the breeze. I want to encourage everyone to pick up a throwing event. I have no problem with people coming out and me helping them. 

“It’s real good to be where I am. My dream is to make the Olympics, maybe next year. Throwing the javelin has really helped me see my true potential. I hope my peers see that track is getting me somewhere and I’m going around the world. Personally I have no problem with going away and seeing new faces and representing Cayman.” 

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Alex Pascal trains at Body Sculptor gym with Verse ‘Bruce’ Mangatam. – PHOTOS: MATTHEW YATES
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