Young Man on the Run to London

You meet the most interesting people when you travel and, for us, that usually means when we travel by cruise ship…

His name is Lavardo Smith, and we met him in a parking lot of Nassau. As ominous as that sounds, it isn’t. We didn’t even have a car. We were just walking through the parking lot in front of the Governor-General’s mansion, on a self-directed foot tour of the area nearest where our ship, the Norwegian Sky, was docked.

Lavardo was on duty, smartly dressed in his Royal Bahamas Defense Force uniform, but that’s not what made him so interesting. While chatting with us about why some cars in Nassau have steering wheels on the right side of the car (65%) and some on the left, we discovered that he is a track star.

Or plans to be.

He’s only been running for three years, not including 2010, when he was sidelined with a torn hamstring muscle.

“I hurt my hamstring when taking a commando course,” he says. “It tore my body down!”

The RBDF is not made for sprinters. This sprinter runs 100 meters, 200 meters and the 4×100 relay. He has competed against Tyson Gay, currently the fastest man in America. He wants to compete against Usain Bolt, the Jamaican who has the world’s title, preferably in August in South Korea at the World Championships…and definitely next year in London at the Olympics.

Lavardo’s fastest time is 10.28 seconds, seven-tenths off Bolt’s world record. In the sprint world, that’s almost like being lapped. Ten years ago, his time would have tied him with Tyson Gay’s best. So he knows he’s in tough, but he’s determined and he can dream, and this young man dreams with conviction.

“I’m going to be in London,” he says emphatically.

On the International Amateur Athletic Federation’s list of world-class athletes, there are 132 Smiths. None is named Lavardo.

He plans to change that.

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