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Quantum leaps

Sherrylyn A. Toppin

Quantum leaps

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Two of Barbados’ top junior track and field athletes will begin new chapters in their careers later this month after receiving full scholarships to universities in the United States.Mara Weekes and Greggmar Swift, both former students of The Lodge School and members of the Quantum Leap programme, will be going to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Indiana State University, respectively.
18 offersWeekes, a former CARIFTA Games gold medallist in the 400 metres, received 18 offers, but decided to accept the offer from Nebraska after touring the school and the University of Hawaii.“After the visit to Nebraska, I decided it was the school for me. I wouldn’t have any distractions and I am sure I would be able to stay focused. “It is one of the best universities in the States and there is no pro team in Nebraska, so the school gets the majority of the funding,” the 18-year-old explained.Weekes will be training with Matthew Martin in the sprint programme. She said another reason which tipped the school in her favour was the fact that he kept in touch.She will be pursuing studies in business administration while working towards her ultimate goal of competing on the European circuit as a professional athlete.
Look to WorldsSwift, 19, also wantsto be a professional athlete and while his first priority is to make it to the finals of the collegiate championships next year, he is also working towards going to the 2011 World Championships on the senior Barbados team.His coach Jeff Martin, also a former hurdler, coached the United States hurdlers at two Olympic Games and Swift is hoping that golden touch will work for him.He had seven offers in the past two years, and he said Martin seemed the most genuine of all the coaches he spoke to.“After the Pan Am Juniors last year, he called me every two weeks up to now,  just to check up on me, see how I was doing in school and how training was coming,” said the former St Leonard’s Boys’ student.Martin also sent pictures of the schools’ facilities and after Swift did his own research, he settled on Indiana State and a career in risk management.He stressed that it was not all about becoming a professional because the school has high graduation rates for scholar-athletes and he also hopes to pursue a master’s in the future.Swift is hoping for an injury-free season after battling a hamstring injury this year. He won silver in the 110 metre hurdles at the CARIFTA Games and a gold medal at the Central American and Caribbean Juniors, but finished eighth in the World Juniors final in Canada.Weekes and Swift are the ninth and tenth athletes from Quantum Leap who have received scholarships. The head coach of the programme is Gabriel Burnett.