Saint Lucia sprinter Julien Alfred turns tragedy into track triumph

Women’s 100m runner Julien Alfred takes silver in a week shaded by family loss as Argentinian shot putter stirs home crowd emotions.

Picture by Jonathan Nackstrand for OIS/IOC

When Saint Lucia sprinter Julien Alfred won the women’s 100m silver medal on Monday, her thoughts turned to the loved ones who were unable to witness her Buenos Aires 2018 success: her late father, and the aunt who died days before Alfred’s arrival in Argentina.The 17-year-old crossed the line in her second-stage race in 11.23 seconds, for a combined 23.22, losing out to gold medallist Rosemary Chukuma by just two hundredths of a second. But her feelings were mixed as the results sank in.

“My dad passed away five years ago and he always hoped to see me compete here today,” she said. “His birthday is on the 17th of October - on Wednesday - and right before I came to the Youth Olympics my aunt passed away at the hospital, which was tough for me and my family. I’m stronger - I’ve been through things that have broken me down and I’ve got over it. Before I (celebrate at home) I’m going to my aunt’s funeral to dedicate my medal to her.”

On an emotional day, Argentine Nazareno Sasia thrilled the home support by winning the men’s shot put gold medal. Finishing the event’s two stages with an impressive 1.45m lead over his nearest rival, China’s Xing Jialiang, 17-year-old Sasia announced he was passing the spoils of his hard work to his coach, Marcelo cesar Borghello.

Nazareno Sasia, Argentina’s shot put gold medallist, who says he is ‘not too much fun at home’
Picture by Nazareno Sasia, Argentina’s shot put gold medallist, who says he is ‘not too much fun at home’ (Joel Marklund for OIS/IOC)

“I going to have an asado (an Argentinian barbecue) and I’m going to give my medal to my trainer,” he said. “Everything is because of him. He deserves it more than me.”

There are some drawbacks to Sasia’s powerful physique, however: living with his mother, grandmother and sister means he is often called upon for any heavy lifting around the house. “I usually have to help my grandmother (to move furniture),” he said. “But my family tend to help me to relax because I’m always training and I’m not too much fun at home. My grandmother is my inspiration. She raised me, I’m really thankful for what she’s done.”