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DOUBLE ROLE: Sprinter and physical education teacher Marcus Duncan.

Marcus Duncan knows how to adapt to different circumstances. While other athletes have suffered because of inaccessible facilities in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Duncan has experienced minimal disruption to his training programme.

“I’ve never been one to depend on training facilities,” Duncan told the Express. “I’m the type of guy that would literally walk around with a measuring tape or wheel, and if I can’t use a facility I just measure out my distance and run wherever I could get it done. The only one that really bothered me was not having the gym readily accessible, but that is just something I have to deal with.

“I would normally be at home using my treadmill just to stay fit, and I have some weights and training equipment there at home. But to be real with you, I definitely don’t like training at home because there is way too much food and distractions nearby. Don’t get me wrong, I’m training, but it’s a lot harder to be at home.”

Duncan had been eyeing a spot on the Trinidad and Tobago team for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. The Games, however, were postponed to July/August 2021.

“Before Olympic postponement,” the Carenage sprinter explained, “training was going pretty well, but slow because I was recovering from an Achilles injury I suffered the year before. If anything, this situation stopped me from trying to force getting ready prematurely, so now with the ease in restrictions I can actually start training the way I wanted to because I’m healthy.”

Duncan said that though he is 33, he is not daunted by the reality of having to train for an additional year ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

“I only do track because I love competing. It’s never been about making the teams; maybe in my junior years, but now I like competing. The Olympics to me is just a bonus or another way to compete, so in a way that keeps me motivated. Winning or losing excites me to get better, and keeps me going. So, looking towards Tokyo, I’m glad for the extra year.”

Duncan did acknowledge, however, that with the Olympics a full 14 months away, age is a factor.

“I’m getting older, so the more time goes by the more difficult it is to maintain that level of intensity. And while I think it doesn’t affect me, my body and I get into arguments all the time about the level I want to train at, so 2020 would have been great for me but 2021 isn’t that bad. It depends, though, on how my body holds up.”

Duncan hopes to represent T&T in both sprints at the Tokyo Games. The 100 metres qualifying standard is 10.05 seconds, while the 200 standard is 20.24. Duncan’s fastest clocking in the 100 is 10.15, while his personal best in the longer sprint is 20.67, the clocking he produced in winning the half-lap title at the 2004 Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Junior Championships, in Mexico.

“The Olympic standards are a lot harder now, and we all would not have competed in about a year when the next season comes around. Some see this as an advantage, while others see it as a setback. We all have one full off-season, so it will make things interesting. This works out for me,” he continued, “because I get to start slow, and build into the athlete I really want to be leading up to 2021. I don’t compete much, but in training I am very explosive so getting the opportunity to have a longer time frame to get stronger, more functional, more explosive is something I won’t complain about. To me, it’s a win/win situation.”

Duncan is buoyed by the “amazing” support he has received from his sponsors—Bodyglow and Nutrabio— since the novel coronavirus outbreak. The seasoned campaigner added that he is grateful suspension of the 2020 track and field season has not put him on the breadline.

“Ask any pro athlete out there and they would tell you that no meet means no money. But I’ve never been one to depend solely on track for income so it isn’t so bad for me.”

Duncan is employed as the physical education teacher at Bishop Anstey Junior School (BAJS), in St Anns. He has been conducting online PE classes.

“I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by eager and intelligent students at BAJS, so it’s easy for me. They were actually the ones who asked for PE online, and are upset if they don’t get to class on time. Shout out to my awesome students.

“We are now in an era where children, on the whole, are stuck in front of a screen. Physical activity has a number of health benefits, so being at home only means there should be more emphasis on staying active because it’s easier to do nothing at home. And this doesn’t just go for children. Adults should do something too. Do it with you children,” Duncan ended. “They would love that!”


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