Sprinter Sharry Dodin aims to put Seychelles on athletics map
This photograph taken on March 23, 2023 shows Seychelles' sprinter Sharry Dodin running during his training session at the Moi International Sports Centre in Nairobi. 24-year-old Dodin, a 100 and 200 metres specialist, is in a race against time to boost his speed in a bid to qualify for the World Championships in Budapest in August and the 2024 Olympics in Paris. (Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP)
(AFP) - Seychelles sprinter Sharry Dodin is a man on a mission.
From a country where athletics faces an uphill battle with football in the popularity stakes, Dodin is in a race against time to boost his speed in a bid to qualify for the World Championships in Budapest in August and the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
The remote Indian Ocean archipelago, which has a population of only around 100,000, has never come close to winning a medal at either Olympic or world level.
Dodin, a 100 and 200 metres specialist, is now in training in Kenya with the country's sprint sensation Ferdinand Omanyala to hone his skills for the upcoming outdoor season.
Both men will line up for their first competitive outdoor meet of the year at the Athletics Grand Prix in Pretoria on Wednesday, the same event where 24-year-old Dodin set his personal best of 10.47sec.
That, however, came way back in March 2018 and is leagues away from the current African record of 9.77sec run by Omanyala in September 2021.
But the Seychellois says the tough training regime with the Kenyan and former South African 100m champion Henricho Bruintjies is already bringing out the best in him.
"When I got here in Kenya the first week, it was really, really hard to keep up with these guys because every day is fast training," said Dodin.
"It's really good to run with them because they're always pushing hard to achieve their goals, and they help me better myself."
Dodin has represented Seychelles in the Indian Ocean Islands games, the Francophone games and the African junior championships.
- 'Main target' -
He said he hopes to qualify for both the 100m and 200m at the World Championships.
But it has been made much harder for the likes of Dodin to make the cut, with World Athletics raising the bar for both events at the World Championships.
The qualifying time in the 100m is now a tough 10.00 and for the 200m it is 20.16, with a deadline of July 30. A large percentage of lesser sprinters, however, are expected to qualify outside those times through the world ranking system.
"It is the main target for every athlete to make it to the World Championships," says Dodin, a trained mechanic.
"The work I am putting in should help me get there. That's my main target this year."
His sole international podium to date is an African under-20 championship bronze, which was also the country's first sprint medal at the continental level.
The youngest of six siblings, Dodin used to play football, the number one sport in the island nation better known for its idyllic beaches.
He only decided to make a career in athletics at the age of 15 after being inspired by Jamaican sprint legend Usain Bolt.
Dodin said there was great potential in athletics in Seychelles but it was hampered by a lack of serious training.
"The people on the island love a lot of leisure and the talented ones don't like to put in lots of hard training to become successful."
© Agence France-Presse