Kai’s game plan

Trinidad - “Mommy I am going to win,” 16-year-old Kai Selvon told her parent in preparation for bmobile’s Olympic Dash competition. And it was far from youthful boasting. Not only because the teen sprinter defeated all competitors to win the trip to the Beijing Olympics later this year. Kai’s meticulous journey towards excellence has given her the discernment to know what she will achieve. The young athlete’s winning of the 400-metre race on June 8 was another step in a life-plan laid out since she was a small child. Most astonishing, Kai created those blueprints herself.

“From pre-school she’s known what she has to do,” says Kai’s mother, Debbie Selvon. “I’ve never had to tell her to study. If she has a school project she does it months before it’s due. Right now at home she has information about the universities she wants to go to stuck up in her room.” Reluctant to take praise for her daughter’s positive attitude and achievements, Ms Selvon did admit to teaching all four of her children that education is important. But the single parent also made crucial material contributions to Kai’s success. Every day after work she would leave her job in Tacarigua and take her daughter for track practise at UWI’s St Augustine campus. Instead, Ms Selvon credits one of Kai’s teachers at the Maracas Seventh Day Adventist Primary School, Michael Macoon, for encouraging the youngster in athletics. “He was a great teacher,” she says. “He always encouraged her to go and run. Whenever there was a track event he put her into the games.” Another influence on Kai’s athletic development is her coach, Earl Bourne of Air Bon Sonics. He said of her: “She’s gifted – and not just in track. All she needs is someone to guide her and set the programme. Even in her schoolwork she is very brilliant. She also is a very talented football player.” Kai’s abilities extend into the arts as well, and in fact her dream is to be a graphic artist. Her cousin is Camille Selvon-Abraham, one of Trinidad’s leading graphic designers and animators. The TSTT-sponsored event gave her and fellow winner Jehue Gordon all expenses-paid trips to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. The Olympic Dash initiative is just one of the company’s activities designed to encourage the development of the nation’s youth. Through its individual projects and the collective work of the TSTT Foundation, the telecom firm has made a major investment in young people. “I’m very excited and happy,” Kai says about her win and trip. “I’m glad to go and see all the stars. I can learn from them.” Kai is also very grateful for the rare opportunity given to her by TSTT. Currently a student at the El Dorado Secondary Comprehensive, Kai is working diligently towards her own Olympic dreams. A 100 and 200-metre specialist, Coach Bourne says she is closing in on her desired times. Her victory in the bmobile under-17 Olympic Dash at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium took her to the head of the 400-metre pack, a feat she’d accomplished at the Hampton International Games in May as well. For now though, the young athlete is very excited to be one of those in attendance at 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, set for August. It’s another marker passed on her track to success.