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Photo Credit: Cameron Browne

The journey to Rio 2016 is well and truly underway for Makeba Alcide. The 25-year-old Saint Lucia and OECS record holder for women's sprint hurdles and combined events is now at ALTIS, formerly the World Athletics Center, in Phoenix, Arizona. After the first few days of training, she says she is more excited than ever about her expecations for next season.

"Everything here is wonderful," she says. "The coaches are amazing, and they are pushing me to my limits. I am sore after doing two weeks of five-hour training sessions! But I am learning so much, and we are working towards improving across the board. Once we stay on course, Olympic qualification, the national and OECS record will be there for the taking."

With an expanded calendar of international events in 2016, the St Jospeh's Convent and University of Arkansas graduate is working with her coaches to identify the best opportunity for Olympic qualification, and to get the timing right. But she also acknowledges that getting into some of the world's most prestigious meets can be a difficult proposition.

"The past couple of years, since I finished school, it's been a challenge to find meets to get into," she explains. "You don't do many full hepathlons in a year, but the really big ones, with the highest level of competition, usually ask you to make your way there. Unfortunately, in previous years, I have not had that sort of financial support."

This year, though, Makeba has had been assisted by the Saint Lucia Olympic Committee (SLOC) and Saint Lucia Athletics Association (SLAA). She is also on a partial scholarship at ALTIS. And she recently received further help from the Minister of Youth Development and Sports, Hon. Shawn Edward, through the National Lotteries Authority (NLA).

"The NLA, the Ministry, and the Minister himself have helped immensely in my ongoing transition from a collegiate athlete to a budding professional. Their contributions, monetary and otherwise, have been invaluable. Obviously, the SLOC and SLAA have big roles to play, and I must thank all of those who contributed to my crowdfunding campaign as well. It means so much to me."

Makeba has said that her goal in the first full competition of 2016 will be to surpass the Olympic standard of 6200.
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