Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 3rd 2015 Contents Laura Dowrich Phillips
Cleopatra Borel is a strong woman,
inside and out. As the country's lead-
ing shot-putter, she knows the bene-
fits of exercising and keeping fit and
she wants to impart that knowledge
Come September, the 2015 First
Citizens Sports Foundation
Sportswoman of the Year will launch
her I am Strong campaign, an initiative
aimed at empowering other women
through physical activity.
A collaboration between herself and
her best friend Anastacia Samuel
James, I Am Strong was born when
Borel won the Sportswoman of the
Year Award for the fourth time.
"Once I won the Sportswoman of the
Year Award I decided that instead of
just winning the award I wanted to use
my voice for something and to highlight
obesity and the growing problem here
in Trinidad and Tobago. As an athlete I
could encourage people to lead a
healthier lifestyle," she said.
Borel said the first step to empower-
ment is taking control of your situation
by starting with something as simple
Just 20 minutes a day, she said, could
impact your entire life.
"It has a trickle-down effect. By
organising your life to include walking
for 20 minutes spreads to being organ-
ised in your job, family life, education,"
The campaign will make use of
T'shirts with the slogan emblazoned on
it. By wearing the tee, said Borel,
"You could use physical activity as a
jumpstart to find your individual
strengths. Simple consistency pays
off," she said.
This cause is very close to Borel, who
is drawing from her own personal expe-
rience in pushing her message.
When the athlete migrated to the US
to attend the Coppin University in
Maryland, she and her friends were
duped by a Trinidadian who they had
paid to find them an apartment.
Unknown to the students, the man was
not paying the rent to the landlord the
rent they were paying him and they
got their lights and heat turned off.
Eventually they were evicted.
"It was five of us but two of us joined
the track team and we got placed on
campus to live," she revealed.
That decision, to walk up to the track
coach and ask to be placed on the track
team, proved to be a turning point in
"He almost fell off his chair laughing
when I told him I could be contribute to
his team. He knew I was terrible but he
gave me a chance," said Borel, who was
always into physical activity.
Borel, who was enrolled to study
physical therapy, found herself starring
during her college years in shot-put. By
the time she had completed her stud-
ies, she was an NCAA champion with
the prospect of representing the coun-
try of her birth at the Olympics, some-
thing she never considered.
"That is why I am saying use physical
activity to deal with stress and turn
your life around. I am not just talking it
I am living it," she said.
Borel, who grew up in Mayaro, said
the I Am Strong campaign would target
"I am planning to do a walk in Mayaro
and we want people from other com-
munities to come to Mayaro and walk
with us and build a movement in their
community and form walking groups.
Walking groups, she said, is not just
about finding safety in numbers but
also providing support.
"I studied health promotions for my
masters and socialising is an important
tool for healthy behaviours. You can
encourage each other to get healthy,
get checkups, and look out for each
Stating that she is very concerned
about the health of our population,
Borel said the effects of our lifestyle is
magnified because we are so small;
therefore we emerge at the top of
studies that measure things such as
"The impact of every individual
counts. It is sad for me because I am a
big person but I am fit. When I see kids
who are overweight and can't play it is
sad to me because it hinders their abili-
ty to live. The life expectancy of the
country will go down and it has effects
on health system," she explained.
The I Am Strong campaign is just the
start of Borel's plans to promote healthy
lifestyles and wellness in the Caribbean.
Following her athletic career, Borel
intends to start a health promotion
"That is my passion," she said, simply.
The now divorced 36-year-old, is, in
the meantime, laying the foundation
and will push the campaign more once
she in the off-season.
Currently she is prepping for the Pan
Am Games in Toronto and, of course,
the Olympic Games in Brazil, which, she
said, will be her last.
For more on the I Am Strong cam-
paign, visit the Facebook page.
Links Archive July 2nd 2015 July 4th 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page