Akela beating the odds

Young champ keeping her eyes on the prize

If there is one person who knows all too well about challenges it would have to be Akela Jones.


The glow  of a champion junior athlete. (Picture by  Deidre Mayers.)
The glow of a champion junior athlete.                                                                             (Picture by Deidre Mayers.)

At one point they were her best friends. But through them all she has remained determined. She set goals for herself and she was resolute that nothing could get in her way.

In fact, if you ask Akela why she possessed such tenacity, for sure the teen would boldly state that she was hell-bent not to become a statistic.

While living between Campwood Children’s home and Sterling Children’s home, Akela lost her mother, Alberta Bajan Patsy Louis, who was brutally murdered.

In an interview this morning with Barbados TODAY from her Welches Terrace, St Michael home, a smiling Akela recalled that it was those 12 years as a ward of the state that made her the strong woman she is today.

“My childhood was a good childhood. There were some good moments, some bad moments. It was something I could look back and tell my children stories about. Sometimes we would get a lot of negative talk because Bajan Patsy was my mother but I loved her. So from early I learned to put that to the side and instead use the talents and stuff that she give me. I said I would not become a statistic, especially as a child coming out of the children’s home. A lot of children come out already looked upon as if they will not succeed and I told myself: ‘I am not following that path and I will not be a statistic so they could talk about me’,” she said.

It was then as a student at the Hilda Skeene Primary school that Jones began to take up sports and excelled in various events. The statuesque beauty started to catch the eyes of many who saw her talents and encouraged her to pursue them. But the 19-year-old admitted she was way two young at the time to actually think seriously of a career in sports. That was, until her first CARIFTA Games in St Kitts back in 2008.

Then barely 12-years-old, Jones, a pupil of the Springer Memorial Secondary school, entered the final round of the the high jump ranked ninth. But somehow at the end of the event, the youngest athlete on the Barbdos team, as a matter of a fact, the youngest athlete at the entire games, won the silver medal.

“I didn’t know what was going on. I remember running up to the bar a million and one times until I finally made an attempt. I got over and I heard everybody scream,” she reminisced with a broad smile on her face.

Upon returning from the CARIFTA Games it can almost be said that Akela got a renewed focus because she got new coaches – Sean Dupigny for sprints and hurdles and Neil Chrichlow for jumps – who helped her develop plans and set goals for herself.

She said: “At first I was just training for Inter-school Sports and CARIFTA Games but then I started to see it was a way I could get a scholarship so my [adoptive] mother wouldn’t have to pay for all these expenses. I realised I had the talent to make it big. So it was just about training hard with a goal in mind. I saw it as a way out so I just continued.

“At the time I was still in the children’s home so sports gave me an opportunity to get out of the children’s home to travel overseas and meet new friends. No matter how many injuries I had, I still always sucked it up and carried through. Every year it was a different injury – growth spurts, knee injuries, ankles, back. I told myself if I fall down I will pick myself back up again. I was determined, better believe it; I got to make it.”

Though she now has many titles under her belt including World Junior Champion in the long jump, Jones would be the first to state that she hasn’t made it yet. Actually, laughing loudly, Jones maintained that anybody could win a World Junior medal. What she is desirous of, however, was translating that title to an Olympic medal, a NCAA medal, Diamond League medals and so on.

Exercising at the National Stadium. (FP)
Exercising at the National Stadium. (FP)

Like so many other young athletes, she wants to reach the pinnacle of sports. But in reality, athletics is not all this young woman has her sights set on. Currently reading for a Political Science degree at the Oklahoma Baptist University and with fingers crossed that she will attend Kansas State University in the coming semester, Jones wants most to inspire people. And to do this she aspires to be a juvenile justice officer.

“I want to create pathways. I want to put stuff in place so that people after me will be able to benefit and so they will have a better chance of making it higher than I have. I want to speak out on problems and on issues in general. I believe the system is set up for children in the children’s homes, in the Government Industrial School, children in the court system to fail and that is something that must be changed.

“In school I got in trouble for representing people so I will now use my mouth in a good way. There is no kind of constructive plan for them to get back into society and make it work. Children out of the schools, go back into society and then go to jail. If so many children are going down that path then it can’t just be the children, something is wrong with the system,” the champion high jumper said as she passionately vowed that when she was established in track and field she would use her fame as a platform to speak out for these individuals.

“I’m proud of how far I’ve come but I will still remain humble. I train like I am number 2 and not number 1 so I keep progressing to the top. You got to keep on moving. My aunt [Michelle Nelson] always says ‘When you snooze, you lose’ so I’m going to keep it moving. And for others who may have a challenge, don’t ever let statistics determine where you will be.

“You got to be different, you got to stand out. People will say things but you got to believe in yourself, believe you can do it and everything else will fall into place. Once you believe you can make it to the top you can. Seriously, you got to believe. If everybody says you will be this or you will be that and you are listening to all of them, put it to the wayside. Get two people to be your guards, guarding you against the negative; let them bounce it off and keep on moving forward,” Jones advised.

Akela Jones away from international track and field and enjoying Crop Over at home. (FP)
Akela Jones away from international track and field and enjoying Crop Over at home. (FP)



26 Responses to Akela beating the odds

  1. Esther Lord-Graham
    Esther Lord-Graham August 13, 2014 at 8:18 am

    Keep on going Akela. But be a statistic. Be the one that made it despite the circumstances

  2. Charmaine Gittens Medford
    Charmaine Gittens Medford August 13, 2014 at 8:50 am

    Congratulations to Akela, keep thriving love

  3. Sheldine Small
    Sheldine Small August 13, 2014 at 9:08 am

    Love this a lot of our young people could take a leaf out of your book.

  4. Nines Live
    Nines Live August 13, 2014 at 9:09 am

    I really wish u all de best cause in life u really had a rough journey

  5. Casan Taylor
    Casan Taylor August 13, 2014 at 9:12 am

    I am proud of you Akela. Blessings on you. Keep up the hard work.

  6. Lucia Aniela Parris
    Lucia Aniela Parris August 13, 2014 at 9:29 am

    She’s been my favourite female athlete for a while now– I could always tell she had a determination to excel from those early years at Springer— best believe Akela you will bring home an Olympic medal— I believe that!

  7. Keisha Callender
    Keisha Callender August 13, 2014 at 9:44 am

    All the negative talk about bajan Patsy …that lady produced some of the Best athletes Barbados has seen ireka akela and wilan ….she did good keep up the good work tho u are gonna go far

  8. Terry Forde August 13, 2014 at 9:53 am

    This is so remarkable, i could not resist the opportunity to comment, on this outstanding individual. Let me say i am proud of your tenacity and determination to plot your path. The odds were stacked against you and you proved its good to have a positive out look on life. More important you have inspired anyone who read the article and understand the history of your incredible journey. Respect is due . Best of luck

  9. Paula Stoute
    Paula Stoute August 13, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Congratulations Akela. Keep thinking positive and u will get that Olympic Gold Medal

  10. Reggie Howard August 13, 2014 at 10:08 am

    when I read this I cried…I believe, I know, she is a chosen one, guided by one who you can nothing with, or about. People like Akela are guided, guarded, protected. I also believe that athletics is just a stepping stone for her. I believe she has a higher calling.

  11. Julia Robinson
    Julia Robinson August 13, 2014 at 11:50 am

    Please make sure you give back to the community. It does not have to be monetary.

  12. Clotelle Holder Fertur Lux
    Clotelle Holder Fertur Lux August 13, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    We are so proud of you and your achievements Akeila! Keep reaching for the stars! <3

  13. Donna Wood
    Donna Wood August 13, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    May you keep growing from strength to strength and may God continue to bless you as you aspire to achieve your goals

  14. Sakeena Boyce
    Sakeena Boyce August 13, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    #Proud #Determine #Ambitious #Outgoing beautiful young lady so many words can’t describe Akela Jones always giving and putting her best foot forward #Bajan girl represent . Springer Student respent 100% . Well Done Akela <3 <3

  15. Sandra Laing August 13, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    Akela you are such a kindred spirit, a success story, I took to you from the moment I met you, when Jasper reminded me that you were the little girl that he had brought to Freeport Bahamas for the CAC Youth Games. You have the right attitude and the right personality and I am looking forward to seeing you in person at the next Olympics. love ya, your Bahama Mammie

  16. Carol King
    Carol King August 13, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Very positive

  17. Lisa Bushell August 13, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    Wonderful, heart-warming story…you are an inspiration! Congratulations Akela, on all your achievements thus far – sporting and academic – and may God continue to Bless you and help you to achieve your future goals. Barbados’ youth need you!

  18. Janelle Yarde
    Janelle Yarde August 13, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Very inspiring. Keep the focus, you’ll make it to the top.

  19. Wendy Greenidge
    Wendy Greenidge August 13, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    Keep up the excellent work Akela! The opportunities in life are yours for the taking. Keep on pushing forward,

  20. Fay Toppin Fertur Lux August 13, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    Akela, I am so proud of you! I know you will make it as far as you dream, because you know what it is to believe! Best wishes to you in all of your endeavors?

  21. wayne dread August 13, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    Who feels it knows it…. Akela you are wise beyond your age… yet you stay true… you accept the cards you were dealt and you play them to the best of your ability…. I knew your mom and like you do and many of us inner city youth, we played with the cards we were dealt.. she was a ride or die sista if there was a rumble she had your back… .. against the odds you continue to rise…

  22. koko Skinner August 16, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    Akelia God guidance be with you always.
    Our motto at Springer Memorial school is Members One Of Another, keep on striving for the best the sky is the limit, we all love you and is praying for you. Springer Memorial School that
    beacon shining brightly at the top of Government hill.

  23. Julia Drakes August 16, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    Akela you will get many OLYMPIC MEDALS, NCAA MEDALS DIAMOND LEAGUE MEDALS and any other medals you want with your attitude girl.I love it! kep thinking positively it will take you very far.What makes this soo much better is you are a Springer girl.keep jumping,running Akela.God be with you always.

  24. Paige Bryan August 17, 2014 at 12:05 am

    Akela you have done us proud but more so you have made yourself proud. I cannot wait to see the positive changes you will make to our society. All God’s richest blessings as you work towards your dreams. You will succeed.

  25. Marcia Clarke August 15, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    God’s Richest Blessings to you Akela!

  26. wendy August 23, 2016 at 7:41 am

    Akela I am so proud of you and what you have achieve you hard work your faith and believe in God and you positive outlook in life speaks volume your story touch my heart and I’m sure it will touch the heart of many others despite your difficult beginnings you stood steadfast and strong you set your goals and you worked hard to achieve them you are a role model to many and I do believe that your story will inspire other to work hard to achieve their goals Akela may God bless you with the Gold medal you so richly deserve God bless


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