Jonathan “Zoom” Webster is a regular competitor on the local running and triathlon scene, and although not the fastest, he is a top finisher. However, what most people don’t know is that Webster had both lungs operated on due to a spontaneous pneumothorax (collapse) a few years ago.
He was also involved in a serious car accident 10 years ago in which he was ejected from the vehicle and given very little chance of walking correctly again.
On top of that, Webster suffered a broken hip and fractured pelvis in a motorcycle crash a couple of years later, so to see him running at all in races is nigh on a miracle.
“It would be easy for me to give up as an account to my medical history, but I find strength in the fact I have survived so much and use it as fuel to push myself harder every time,” Webster said.
“And I hope this will inspire others that wish to do something in their life that others said was too difficult.”
Despite doctors telling Webster he may not walk normally again, he had faith that through all the pain he would be able to push himself to not only walk, but also to run fast enough to break under 19 minutes for a 5K.
“Make no excuses in life, just start with what you have. When you have it, develop from there. “From the motorcycle accident, I only feel some pain to my hip after about five miles.
“A small percentage of my right lung was removed and my left lung was stitched up. However, it is a small chance I could have another collapse at any given time, so I train sensibly.”
There is a growing band of young Caymanians getting super-fit and ultra competitive through Flashy Nation Sports Club and other informal groups.
Webster was inspired by two of them, his cousins Darrell “DJ” Evans and Samuel Young, who got him into competing two years ago. An all-round sportsman, Webster competed in a squash regional invitational tournament in Jamaica some years ago, where he won his division. He started off playing badminton as an 8-year-old in West Bay.
“I remember my older brother, Elbert McField, taking me to play badminton as if it were yesterday. Then I got into football for some years. Then in middle school I was introduced to squash during an after-school program.”
Through his badminton background Webster quickly caught on and was beating the teacher by the second week. She encouraged him to join the squash club in South Sound and train with the legendary Derek Tyler on Saturdays. “I got my brother involved and we both were real good back then.”
The 29-year-old Caymanian works as a motor engineer for Cayman First Insurance, and he also has a range of businesses in the automotive community. Being a huge racing nerd, his sporting heroes are the late racing driver Ayrton Senna and motorcycle champ Valentino Rossi.
Webster believes Cayman has a broad range of naturally gifted athletes “and it’s only going to take one to hit super-stardom to inspire many others to believe that the dream is possible.”
He added, “Right now the scene seems to be heavily focused on football, but there are quite a few Caymanians doing very well [in] other sports from gymnastics to equestrian, so I love to see that we are moving in the right direction with overall sports development.”
He would love to see a motor sports park here, where people could have multiple events from drag racing to motor-cross.
“I think if we invested in renewable streams of revenue such as hosting major competitions, more people would see our wonderful country just to attend these events and I’m sure if they visit once they will be back again.”
Apart from being a triathlete, Webster is also a serious race-car builder and is targeting competing in Jamaica by October 2016.
As much as he loves sports, “being a world champion father to my two children is something that I want more than anything.”
Webster will continue striving to beat the 19 minute 5K target by using a 2-mile run for training in this Saturday’s final Fidelity Fun Run on Walkers Road. His first 5K was completed in a modest 31:30 and the quickest thus far is 23:34.
“When I started running, one of my first events was the Fidelity series and I raced my arch-rival Marlon Crowe Sr., who was pushing his grandson in a pram.
“He beat me twice but I was determined to beat him on the last run, which is when I started focusing on training more, and happily I beat him on that last one.”