Samantha Shukla is determined to make an impact on sport here in Trinidad and Tobago.
Shukla is pursuing a Master’s degree in Sport Management at Wichita State University (WSU), in Kansas, USA, and is keen “to be a part of the positive change that sport is bringing within T&T”.
The 29-year-old distance runner wants to “inspire people to take the risk of living out their dreams no matter how difficult the journey is, and live life to the fullest and glorify God in everything”.
Shukla said she is inspired by the likes of Cleopatra Borel, Jehue Gordon, Jamaal James, Zwede Hewitt, Sparkle McKnight, Alena Brooks and Tonya Nero, describing them as “national heroes”.
Shukla added: “I am honoured to have the athletic ability that I have been blessed with by God and I am doing my best to return more to my Maker than what he invested in me from the beginning.”
Shukla hopes to run professionally following her graduation in May, next year. In the meantime, the Beetham Gardens athlete continues to train. In an interview with the Sunday Express (KL), Shukla (SS) spoke about training during the Covid-19 pandemic.
KL: How have Covid-19 restrictions affected your training?
SS: The Covid-19 restrictions affected my training a bit in the months of March and April. I no longer had access to the Heskett Center on campus. That’s a recreational facility for all students and the public. I usually did my cross-training there. I would run on treadmills, ride, use the elliptical, weight training, and even use the pool at times.
I also lost access to the massage therapists on campus. That one hurt me the most. I almost cried. Massages are really important to me and my progress. I have been using my roller and my cricket ball in the hope that the equipment works to keep my muscles healthy. The WSU Track & Field facilities also closed, and not having access to their weight room, the track and even the team was a little difficult to deal with at first. But restrictions have eased as the Heskett Center reopened at the beginning of June.
KL: Has the ease in restrictions made a significant impact on training?
SS: The ease hasn’t made an impact on my training because I am still on my own using what I have in order to be safe. The Covid-19 cases are still going up here and I want to be wise about the situation. I have been building my mileage, doing body weight exercises, soca aerobics with Brent Elder on Facebook Live, yoga, and doing my best to eat healthy and make the most of my current situation.
KL: Will you be competing between now and the end of 2020?
SS: I expect to do a half-marathon, God’s willing, towards the end of the year once it is held.
KL: What are your goals for the 2021 season?
SS: My goals are to be healthy and to improve in the distances I get to compete in. The first half of the year I plan to compete in maybe one or two indoor meets in Wichita, a half-marathon again, then an outdoor 10,000 metres, God’s willing. Depending on how those races go, then I will have a better idea for the latter part of the 2021 season.
KL: How have things gone with your studies?
SS: The Master’s degree in Sport Management has been enjoyable. I have been given opportunities to do things that I know will help me in my career after the completion of the degree. Sport programmes are easy for disciplined and successful sportsmen and women. We learn what we have already experienced. It’s a little bit more depth and maybe a more effective way of doing things, but for the most part I know and understand the courses.
KL: Were your studies affected by Covid-19?
SS: In the middle of March all our classes were moved to online. I actually enjoyed working from home and getting my school assignments done that way. The only thing was the major assignments. I would usually go to the library to get my major assignments done to have a change of scenery from my apartment, but God proved I didn’t need that. I accomplished all my school work before their due date right from my apartment.
I actually finished my first year of graduate school with a 4.0 GPA (Grade Point Average), by God’s grace and the Holy Spirit working overtime in me. There were some assignments that I really didn’t want to do and fussed within myself over doing them, but the Holy Spirit truly helped me in those times to suck it up and get those things done.