REIGNING national junior 200 metres champion Jabari Fox is gearing up for a delayed start to his athletic freshman year at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), United States.
The covid19 pandemic has made travel uncertain throughout the world and Fox has decided to stay put in Trinidad. He begins his academic study on August 17 via an online platform provided by the American institution. The borders remain closed but the Government has said it would grant exemptions to people to leave TT to take up jobs or attend school.
Caribbean Airlines recently issued a notice to locally-based students who wished to return to the US to continue their academic pursuit. The airline advertised a specially-approved flight from Trinidad to Miami.
The 19-year old sprinter will receive a detailed training programme from the UNI coach within the coming weeks to ensure he remains fit and ready during his stay in TT. Fox's pet events are the 200m and 400m.
The 2018 Carifta 4x400m relay bronze medallist recently secured an athletic scholarship and was officially accepted by the esteemed college on July 25. According to Fox, being accepted to an American university as a track athlete is a dream come true.
"It's a great feeling for me because as a young athlete growing up, I admired the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) events and wanted to be a part of that. For my first year, I hope to make the NCAA final in both events. It's a goal for me, win that and move on. I want to become a professional athlete and like all other athletes, go to the Olympics and grab a medal,Ó he said.
Fox bagged bronze alongside 4x400m compatriots Che Lara, Ona Mitchell and Justin O'Brien at the Carifta Games in Bahamas two years ago. Later that year, he sustained a minor injury and was unable to attend the World Junior Games trials.
Undeterred, the sprinter searched for another spot at the 2019 Carifta Games but was unable to achieve the required qualification time. He kept pushing and under Point Fortin New Jets coach Eric McCree, booked a spot to represent the national team in the 200m at the Pan American Junior Games in Costa Rica.
Fox placed sixth in the Pan Am Jr final and recorded a personal best time of 21.14 seconds, while nursing a hamstring injury. He went on to capture gold and silver in the 200m and 400m events respectively at the National Junior Track and Field Championships in 2019.
Reminiscing on life on the track, Fox said he's always had challenges.
"I started running at age ten, competing at zonal championships. The first race I ran at the Hasely Crawford Stadium I didn't even have a proper running shoe because things weren't really good for me that year.
"Soon after, things began to look up for me I began recording improved performances because of my growth spurts. Even though I conquered a couple injuries in the early stages, I still held on,Ó he said.
The former Point Fortin RC and Vessigny Secondary student has plans of pursuing his academic career in either electrical or software engineering. Fox was pleased to select UNI as his destination since the school is known for its comprehensive athletics programme.
"I believe it would be a good transition for me to work on my 200m and 400m races. Covid19 is hampering my trip to the US but I believe when it's your time, it's your time. I'm not rushing it. Even if I have to stay here to do the online classes for a little while, I'll accept that. It would also be a good to experience to compete in world class facilities, indoor competitions and attempt other challenges as an athlete."
On his successes thus far, Fox credited the support by his parents and friends and the commitment and belief displayed by McCree throughout his juvenile athletic years.