Beating The Odds - Inspire! With D'wayne Extol
- 11 Posts
- Age 19
I once heard that the measure of a man's life is not so much in what he accomplishes, but in the accomplishments of the lives he has touched.
We are often unknowingly pegged as role models. From the sterling example my parents have given me, to the exuberance of my mentor - I'm always pushed to be my best self. However, that doesn't mean that I've stopped looking for people to be inspired by - I do that every day, often unconsciously.
One young person that I've come across whom more than adequately fits the bill of "inspirational" is D'wayne Extol. I met D’wayne while interning as a blogger at the GraceKennedy corporate headquarters in Kingston, Jamaica. I was given the task of interviewing him and writing about his pursuit of Olympic glory. He's a world-class athlete, sports analyst and social media officer at a conglomerate, in addition to having multiple volunteer efforts under his belt. All before his 25th birthday. I managed to get him to sit down with me for an interview.
The first thing that struck me about D’wayne, as he spoke to me about his accomplishments and his goals, was his self-assuredness. He obviously had his life planned out to a tee, and knew exactly what he had to do to get to where he wanted to be.
Name one inspirational thing you have done?
As captain of Wolmer’s Boys’ Champs team, I led them to their first victory in decades. With a team of just 29 people, while other schools had teams as big as 100. We won with the least amount of people in Champs History. I did as many events as I could and even won the 400m from Lane 8. Lane 8 is the hardest lane to run the 400m in. My former teammates tell me all the time how much that moment changed their lives.
Here in Jamaica, The ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys’ and Girls’ Championships (more commonly known as Champs) is perhaps the biggest athletic meet each year. High schools across our island tenaciously compete to be crowned the winner. A lot hinges on these championships. Like, international tertiary scholarships for the athletes, as well as donations for the school’s athletic departments. D’wayne later became a recipient of one of these scholarships to the prestigious Texas Tech University.
What motivated you to strive for success? Where did you get the drive to fuel you in your endeavors?
D’wayne tells me that his life itself is a testimony. The absence of a father figure from early on could easily have derailed him. Yet, here he is, the first University graduate from his family - he obtained a scholarship from his phenomenal feat in Champs 100 - and an aspiring Olympian. He regularly speaks to groups of young people and motivates them to pursue their goals, no matter how big and out of reach they may seem.
What are your goals right now?
Presently, D’wayne is trying out for the 2016 Rio Olympics, to further solidify his ideology that anything is possible with the right amount of effort and determination. I want that recognition and leverage on my side when I’m talking to kids. It’s not about the money or the fame. Seeing young people grow into the persons they’re supposed to be is my priority.
Five years from now I see myself as part of an organization, and travelling the world to inspiring young minds. My goals are always specific, and I want to help young boys. My father passed when I was 9, so I know what the absence of a father figure can do if you don’t have the right influences. I think young men from the age of 8 to 18 are the most vulnerable group. I want to be seen as a role model, to instill good values in them.
What advice would you give to young people pursuing their dreams?
Stop caring so much about what people think of you and don’t follow the crowd. It’s easy to get distracted following your friends. Learn to say no without explaining yourself. Be honest about what you want, and what you don’t want.
Our passions shouldn’t be diverted because someone says they don’t think we can achieve our goals, or that we’re too young to accomplish it. Youth is everything right now. We have the energy, motivation and the drive. Everyone has to start somewhere. Start now. Just because it hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean it isn’t possible.
I left D’wayne’s interview in higher spirits than when that I started it. Listening to the story of another young person relentlessly pursuing their dream was enough to inspire me to keep on charting the path towards my own goals. Goals that now seemed more within my reach than ever.