She was a surprise winner and one of the star performing stand-out athletes at the recent ISSA GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Athletics Championships in Kingston, but at the end of High School, there is no desire to continue with track and field, so says current star Leonie Angela Samuels.
Samuels, who now holds the Western and National Shot Put titles, told the Western Mirror in an interview, she has her eyes set on pursuing a career as a nurse, following the completion of High School. “I really have no desire to continue with track and field” she said.
One of three stand-out gold medal winners for the ever improving Rusea’s High School track and field team, Samuels is probably the most surprising top performer.
The first Western-based athletes to reap a gold medal at the five day spectacle, Leonie was born to parents Karen and Jasford Samuels, in Paradise, Norwood here in the second City of Montego Bay. Leonie, who has a bubbly voice, but a calm personality, has six siblings and is a part of a very close nit family.
One with a broad smile and a will to always be her best, she is the first child for her father and the fourth for her mother and was born on September 11, 2001.
Now a resident of Westmoreland, after migrating there with her family, Leonie in her sit-down with the Western Mirror, says her aspirations in life is to become the best at whatever she’s doing.
Leonie, who earned her place at Rusea’s High School from Albion Primary and Junior High after sometime at Green Pond Primary, and is currently an upper six student doing Caribbean Studies and Physical Education, says she also holds several subjects in CSEC.
These include Mathematics, English Language, Social Studies, Integrated Science, Human and Social Biology, Principles of Accounts, Clothing and Textile, Economics and Information and Technology.
The talented young lady, somewhat new to the sport, says she has been in track and field and competing now for roughly three years, but adds she had known about the sport for a longtime, and was introduced to the discipline (Shot Put) by her now coach Roderick Myles. She divulged that Myles saw the potential in her and believed in her capabilities, thus she being where she is now.
Asked how COVID-19 has affected her over the past year and a quarter, Leonie said, “COVID-19 has had nothing but positive impacts on me…. . It has given me lots of opportunities as well as it helped me to become a better person. I will say COVID-19 had negative impact but, the good that it brought into my life outweighs the bad ones”.
Leonie surprised the field to take the Class 1 Shot Put event at the 2021 ISSA GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Track and Field championships, becoming the first Western-Jamaica based athlete to take a gold medal, with a throw of 13.21 metres, a personal best for her.
Quizzed as to her reaction after realizing her achievement, Leonie told the Western Mirror, “I was overwhelmed with joy when I found out I was the winner and also the fact that I PB. I did believe that I had the ability to throw 13 metre but I did not think I was going to win but my coach he believed in me from the start and he worked really hard, so I just had to do my best for him, my family and myself.”
Leonie, seemingly a bubbly character, says she enjoys surfing the net, being close to family, hanging with friends, going out and going to parties.
LEONIE UP CLOSE:
Ques: Who motivates you?
Ans: My motivation comes from my coach Roderick Myles, my parents and Donovan Bruce; they know how to keep me grounded, always have an encouraging word for me and best of all they keep me very focused
Ques: What is your favorite color?
Ans: Black is not a color, it’s a shade and that’s my favorite
Ques: What is your favorite meal?
Ans: Pizza and Burger
Ques: Do you have a favorite movie?
Ans: No, none at all
Ques: What’s your drink of choice?
Ans: My favorite drink is Orange Juice
Ques: What’s the name of your best friend?
Ans: Khalil Reid, we met in High School and have been friends now for some four years and counting
Ques: How tall are you?
Ans: I am 5’8”
Ques: What is your favorite quote?
Ans: “Nothing is impossible, even the word itself says I’M POSSIBLE”
Ques: Do you watch or even play anything than track and field?
Ans: Yes, I love to watch football…..I do so because it is a very exciting
Ques: Who is your favorite player to talk about in your preferred event (Shot Put)?
Ans: The athlete I talk about most is Valerie Adams, she a New Zealand Shot Putter, she is a four-time World champion, four-time World Indoor champion, two-time Olympic, three-time Commonwealth Games champion….she is one to watch, given the discipline I’m in and I admire her a lot and what she capable of doing in the sport.
Ques: What’s the most used App on your phone?
Ans: I use YouTube the most
Ques: Where is your preferred venue to perform?
Ans: National Stadium
Ques: What would you say has been your most memorable moment to date in the sport?
Ans: Definitely my recent showing at Champs, never expected it to happen (the victory) but it was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had and it was just amazing, really satisfying.
Ques: You have identified an International star that you love to see in action, but, locally is there one that you also admire?
Ans: Yes, I love to see World indoor silver medalist Danniel Thomas-Dodd. I just love her form, aptitude and determination, always wanting to succeed.