When Deandra Dottin became the youngest member of Canada’s Olympic field hockey team at 18 years and 75 days old in 2008, it marked a rare occasion in Canadian history: a homegrown athlete of Caribbean descent. But Dottin is not the only one of her background to make a mark for herself at the Olympics. Her teammate Kelly Russell became the first Jamaican-born female to compete at the Olympics in rowing.
The London Olympics is the most widely-attended sporting event in the world, with billions of dollars in revenue generated. For the athletes, it can be the end of a dream. Spending five years preparing for the big show, not to mention years of training and being the best at your sport, to then finish up on the bottom of the podium, is a tough break for any athlete.
West Indies defeated Australia in the 2016 Twenty20 World Cup, with Deandra Dottin taking 2-33 and being 18 not out.
|Date: 10 August Time: 15:00 BST Location: Emirates Old Trafford|
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Deandra Dottin was awarded the World T20 Cricketer of the Year in 2018. She was ready to give up in 2019.
Dottin has been instrumental in illuminating the first weeks of The Hundred with London Spirit, but she might have easily been pursuing Olympic gold in Tokyo this month.
Dottin was an athlete first and a cricketer fourth throughout her youth.
She stated, “Athletics got me a long way in terms of sports before I went to cricket.”
“I’ve always considered coming back since my goal has always been to compete in one Olympics.”
Dottin, who specialized in the javelin, also excelled in the shot put and discus, and participated in the CARIFTA Games, a junior tournament that included two age categories (U18s and U20s) from all of the Caribbean Free Trade Association’s countries.
“Experiencing CARIFTA and really playing in them was a nerve-wracking experience for me,” Dottin added. “I believe I was 12 when I first went to CARIFTA, so it was nerve-wracking, but it was always an honor to represent your nation at that level of sports.”
Dottin would go down in history in the 2007 tournament.
She won gold not just in her favorite event, the javelin, but also in the discus and shot put. Three out of three is a win. For what it’s worth, she would also make her international cricket debut a year later.
But how did the anxiety of competition differ in each?
Dottin chuckles, “To be honest, the nerves struck different to go up next at the javelin.”
“If you’re not focused on the job at hand, you’ll simply freeze; I’ve ran up and stopped before I could even get in a throw with the javelin… the nerves, yes, they hit different.”
Dottin’s cricket career would begin at the same time that her sports career came to an end.
Athletics was and continues to be her passion, and she was only forced to abandon the sport after becoming disillusioned with the lack of support from the Barbadian regulatory organization.
She recalls being perplexed after her world-record-breaking 2007 performance that a teammate who won the octathlon at the World Youth Championships received national accolades, whereas she received “a little glass trophy” more suited to a school sports day than an international competition for her record-breaking three gold medals at the CARIFTA.
Cricket, on the other hand, excelled where athletics had failed her.
A road to success and a career was set out in front of her by former West Indies star Pamela Lavine, who encouraged her to pursue cricket. Dottin would be a world-class athlete, but not in the sport she had hoped for.
Dottin earned a reputation as one of the most destructive cricketers in the world during the following ten years.
Her ambition of being an Olympian, though, lingered in the back of her mind.
Dottin finally determined it was now or never in 2019.
When tragedy occurred, the goal of Tokyo 2020 was in place, and training preparations were in place. Her right shoulder was severely injured, necessitating reconstructive surgery and a year off from all sports.
Dottin would subsequently give interviews in which she detailed the lows she experienced over those 12 months, as well as how tough she found that period of her life. All of the comments, however, were taken in the context of being away from cricket, with none mentioning the real agony of the injury, which put an end to a boyhood ambition.
That’s understandable. Because Dottin had kept it a secret. The West Indies Cricket Board was among those who were unaware of her intentions.
“They’d have been taken aback,” Dottin adds, smiling.
Dottin, a cricketer by accident but perhaps an Olympian by destiny, hasn’t entirely abandoned the notion.
Her shoulder feels stronger than ever after a year of therapy, but she recognizes that at the age of 30, with the next Olympics still three years away, time is not on her side.
While a lot of luck and a lot of stars will have to align, Deandra Dottin’s CV will one day read 2016 world champion and 2024 Olympian.
It was just as she had imagined it.
The ECB’s Hundred Rising program allows eight aspiring young journalists to recount the narrative of The Hundred men’s and women’s tournaments from their own perspective.
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