Donawa quits jumping to focus on football

  • Jumping for joy: Justin Donawa on the way to victory at the IVY League Heptagonal Indoor Track and Field Championships

(Photo by Doug Austin Photography)
  • Photograph by John and Matt Risley/Dartmouth College

Football focus: Justin Donawa has hung up his athletics boots after winning gold in the triple jump at the Ivy League Heptagonal Indoor Track and Field Championships

Justin Donawa has called time on his superb athletics career to focus on his ambition to become a professional footballer.

The Dartmouth College junior ended his athletics career on a high note after winning the gold medal in the triple jump at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships at Leverone Field House, New Hampshire, last month.

“I made the difficult decision a couple days prior that this would be my last time competing in track and field,” said Donawa, who plays football for Bermuda.

“It was not an easy decision by any means. But I have been struggling with little injuries lately and have made the decision that I want to turn my focus to football. Due to these factors, I knew it was time.”

Donawa, who won gold in the triple jump at the 2012 Carifta Games in Bermuda, thanked all of those who helped him throughout his athletics career.

“I would just like to thank my parents, the Bermuda National Athletics Association, Cal Simons and the Bermuda Pacers Track Club, Brian Wellman, Dartmouth Track and Field and everyone who has played a role in my track career one way or another,” he said.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed this amazing journey as it has allowed to me to travel and see the world and meet some great people.

“I hope I have been able to inspire children, even if it’s only one child, to get involved in sports or whatever may be of interest to them and use this as a vehicle to travel around the world and get a good education.”

Donawa said his triumph at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championship was “very special”.

He said: “It was an absolute honour to be crowned the 2018 Indoor Ivy League Heptagonal triple jump champion and a great feeling to go out on top, something I learnt from my father [Jay Donawa] through his May 24 victory last spring,” he said. “For these exact reasons, this last accomplishment in track was a very special one.”

Donawa went into the championship feeling confident about securing gold, having already achieved podium displays at the indoor meet.

“Ever since my freshman year, I believed that I had the capability to take home the gold and before this performance I had come second and third in my freshman and my sophomore years, respectively,” he said.

“I had come so close and knew my time was coming soon. This accomplishment was truly a two-year long process.”

Donawa claimed the gold, but not before sweating it out after a rival jumper matched his best jump of 15.57 metres (51ft 1in), which also ranks second on Dartmouth’s All-Time list in the triple jump.

“I was fortunate to have my first jump of 15.57 stand as the best mark for the whole competition,” he said. “I passed my second jump due to my left knee feeling weak and then ran out of my first phase in my third jump.

“My fourth jump I recorded a mark of 15.49 and passed my fifth-round attempt to see what the rest of the field would do. But in the sixth round a jumper from Brown University equalled my distance of 15.57 and at that point I was nervous and confused on what was going to happen.

“However, since my second best jump of 15.49 was further than his second best of 15.34, I was assured the gold and didn’t have to take my sixth jump. It was one of the most relieving moments I’ve had in track in a long time. I was just happy I was able to contribute the maximum ten points towards the team score.

“The meet was held at Dartmouth, which makes a huge difference. To have all of my football team-mates, classmates, and friends there cheering me on was an amazing feeling. Their support meant everything to me.”

Donawa was a member of Dartmouth College’s men’s football team that won a fourth straight Ivy League title last November.

The forward also plays for Somerset Trojans, as well as being a fast bowler for Somerset Cricket Club.