Jumping through the obstacles

Ryne Oshiro, Staff Writer

Keshara Romain currently holds the school record in the woman’s long jump and triple jump. Photo retrieved from smusaints.com

Keshara Romain starts about ten feet behind a white line that marks where she’ll take her first leap. As she starts to sprint, her eyes are locked on that line, where she launches herself off her right leg. Then she seemingly ignores gravity and appears to double jump in mid-air, and in this same motion lands and plants her right leg onto Earth again only to prepare herself for one more leap, at the end of which she tucks her knees together to cover more distance and lands perfectly, feet first into the sand pit. In a matter of three seconds, Romain has covered 41 feet and 8 inches, far enough to give her hope that she can become a world-class triple-jumper.

For Saint Martin’s junior track star, the ongoing pandemic is just another obstacle in her progression toward greatness. Romain’s track resume sounds like something out of a video game. She is both an All-American in the long jump and the triple jump, holding the school records in both.

Romain was born in the Virgin Islands, which makes her eligible to possibly become a member of the Virgin Islands Olympic track team. Last summer, she had conversations with a former coach and Olympian and plans to continue to break her personal records in hopes of getting the call to join the team next summer.

So how does someone who has already accomplished so much in her young college career continue to motivate herself? Romain explains that her biggest competitor is herself. Every track meet is an opportunity to beat her own personal records.

After being encouraged by her high school coach, Romain transitioned from the long jump to the triple jump in her sophomore year at Timberline High School. It’s not an easy transition. Learning how to become a great triple jumper is complicated. The jumper must sprint swiftly down a track lane and then perform a sequence of three jumps in essentially one fluid motion and land as far into the sand pit as they can.

Romain said her preparation includes a strong attention to detail in her technique during the week prior to a meet. When game day arrives, she focuses her thoughts into visualizations of herself running down the lane and jumping as far as she possibly can. From this visualization she sees herself excelling and ties that into the confidence she hurls into every jump. When asked about superstitions that may arise on game days or days leading up to it, Romain said she doesn’t really have any beyond preferring not to eat prior to meets to keep herself feeling light and able to leap further.

The Virgin Islands has been sending athletes to international competitions since the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City and have one silver medal in sailing. The qualifications for the Olympic long jump and triple jump are set at 6.82 m or 22.4 feet, Romain’s personal best is 19 feet and 2.5 inches. For the triple jump, the qualification is 46.98 feet, five feet beyond Romain’s current personal best.

For now, Romain looks to focus on the upcoming track meets that are still set to take place in the Spring. As the reigning West Region Field Athlete of the Year, Romain will look to defend her award as the season approaches.

Her goals have not changed, but COVID-19 has definitely impacted her training. Romain finds herself having to wear a mask during practice except when training by herself. Although the biggest downside to the pandemic for her, she says, is the online schooling, not the changes in her track routine.

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