Jamie Howell's Deaflympics Experience
After years of training and preparation, I made it to Turkey for the 2017 Deaflympics. Since, the 2008 Pacific School Games, it was my dream to represent Australia for Track and Field.
- By Jamie Howell
I achieved this in 2015 where I competed at the Asia-Pacific Deaf Games in Taiwan. After these games, I was hungry for more international experience, so I put all my focus on the 2017 Deaflympics that were to be held in Samsun, Turkey.
There were over 3000 athletes at the games and 473 in Athletics. I competed in the Women’s 200m and Long Jump. I finished 17th in the 200m, narrowly missing out on the Semi-Final by one spot. With the 200m out of the way, it was time to focus on my main event – Long Jump. After my second jump, I was sitting in 10th place. A season’s best performance in the third round put me in 8th place and on track for the final. I had an agonising wait for 11 more jumpers to know whether I would proceed to the next round and get three more jumps. It then came down to the French competitor, the last jumper, who managed to beat my distance by 3cm. However, I was still very happy to jump a season’s best under pressure and finish 9th overall.
Like any other athlete would, I feel I could have performed better. However, the Deaflympics was still an amazing experience. The Opening Ceremony was absolutely incredible and beyond my expectations. The stadium had 35 000 seats and was full. The Turkish people really got involved and the atmosphere was amazing. One of the highlights from the Opening Ceremony was stepping out onto the stage, in my Australian Uniform, and seeing the huge crowd in front of me. Another highlight was finding the Aussie supporters in the crowd and waving our flags towards them as we marched around the field. After the athlete’s march, there were speeches, lighting of the Deaflympics cauldron and performances.
After the Opening Ceremony, I still had one week before competition. I used this time to train, settle in and adjust to the food and climate. I was very happy to leave Winter in Australia and hit the European Summer. The weather in Turkey was warm and sunny, perfect for training and competition. At my first training session, the Russian Athletics Team was there. I was amazed at the size of their team and took the opportunity to meet a few Russian athletes. This definitely made me more excited and nervous about my competition.
Life in the athlete’s village consisted of eating, meeting other athletes, playing cards with the Brazilians, trying to get my clothes washed before I needed to wear them again and more eating. Staying at the athlete’s village meant I not only formed close friendships with the rest of the Australian Team, but I got to meet and develop my communication skills with other Deaf athletes from all over the world. One thing I love about international deaf events is that even though everyone speaks a different language, we are able to find a way to communicate through sign language and to me, that’s quite special.
The Deaflympics was an incredible experience, and one I hope to experience again. It has also inspired me to find more talented deaf athletes and spread the word. Thanks to Deaf Services Queensland and the Life Enrichment Grant, I was able to achieve this dream.
Are you a member of the Deaf community? Do you need funding to get your idea, project or study goals off the ground like Jamie did?
Applications for our last Life Enrichment Grant intake for 2017 are closing on September 4.
What will you achieve?