October 22, 2014

Kevin Abbensetts: From juvenile delinquent to budding professional athlete

Kevin Abbensetts (left) with a fellow competitor

Kevin Abbensetts (left) with a fellow competitor

Kevin Abbensetts has always been athletically inclined and so it was no surprise when he began showing much promise during sporting activities at school.

Kevin attended the J E Burnham Primary School but had a history of disciplinary issues which always prevented him from participating at national track meets and other advanced events.

He grew up with his maternal aunt from the age of two after moving from his hometown on the Essequibo Coast to fulfil his mother’s dream of a better chance at life for her children.

After his adoptive parents separated, Kevin began to observe the economic toll the new adjustment was having on his aunt.

She was forced to acquire her driver’s licences becoming who commuters would come to know as the first female minibus driver on the Georgetown route; utilising her minibus to transport schoolchildren on contract.

But Kevin describes his childhood as playful and mischievous and revealed that he ended up in the company of a group of misguided youths even from a young age of eight.

But it was Kevin’s competitive spirit that caused him to begin stealing from his aunt in an effort to keep up with his friends who often sported trendy gadgets and other high-priced items.

Robbing strangers

Kevin Abbensetts (third left) participating at a recent game

Kevin Abbensetts (third left) participating at a recent game

He recalled that the money from his aunt soon became inadequate to support his habit and he turned his attention to strangers on the streets, robbing and snatching anything on which he could get his hands.

“I use to see my friends getting certain things and I wanted what they had, so I decided to do bad things to get it,” he related.

Kevin told how he was often scolded, but had become so immune to even the harshest form of punishment.

“Whenever I carried home something that didn’t belong to me, my aunt would tell me to take it back and when I was rude to her, she would take me to the station. One of the inspectors at the station use to sit and talk to me and I would take a break for a while and start again.”

Kevin related that the turning point in his life came one day in 2009 during a game of cricket at a softball ground with friends when one of the boys left for the urinals and found a laptop.

“The person had left the laptop close to the dorms by the urinals and since I was the only person with a haversack, he picked it up and asked me to put it in my bag.”

But someone had seen when the boys grabbed the laptop and alerted the gate officials who followed the group as they were leaving.

The guys began running but Kevin was caught and the stolen laptop recovered from his bag pack.

Kevin was processed by police, charged and placed before a magistrate. However, when a probation report was provided and information was presented about his frequent involvement with police, the magistrate instructed that Kevin be placed at the New Opportunity Corps.

Now 15 years old and accustomed to his city life, Kevin felt isolated and annoyed with the new situation.

New life

However, being from Essequibo, he maintained hopes that he could still feel at home and on arriving at the institution, Kevin immediately felt accepted and began making friends.

He was placed in the agriculture corps for the first six months and detailed that he learnt a lot during his time there.

He was later given an opportunity to learn welding and fabricating and remained in that course throughout the duration of his stay.

“I was doing really good in welding and I ended up staying there because I developed a love for it. Sometimes, we would slip into other classes when we had the time to see what other skills we could learn.”

His welding instructor turned out to be an athletic coach and Kevin was able to participate at the inter-schools; eventually making it to the National Schools Championships.

In August of 2011, Kevin was released from the New Opportunity Corps and moved back to live with his aunt.

Education

He later wrote the entrance exams at the Kuru Kuru Training College where he spent 10 months after being given an opportunity to further his education in welding.

“Looking back now, I was glad that I was sent there because I don’t know where I would have been right now,” the 18-year-old remarked.

While at Kuru Kuru, Kevin earned himself the title of Champions of Champions, running away with the male championship trophy.

He later enrolled at the Government Technical Institute (GTI) where he is currently pursuing studies in small appliance repairs.

He has since networked with an old coach and was able to restart training.

“I told him of my desire to start training and he told me to turn up at the training venues where he was coaching and I did. From then, I began improving and I represented North Zone in 2012. In that competition, I copped three silvers and one gold. I was happy because it was my first time in Georgetown and so I decided to pursue running,” Kevin said.

However, having to self-sponsor at events is no easy task.

“Sometimes you have to finance yourself and that can be tough but the Ministry of Culture has helped me in purchasing gear and other stuff I need.”

In July, Kevin also represented Guyana in Trinidad where he placed first in the long jump, and third in the 400 heats.

He recently participated at the Inter-Guiana games where he copped two gold medals.

Kevin believes he is prepared and is hopeful of securing an athletic scholarship that would afford him an opportunity to reach the ultimate goal of becoming a professional athlete.

“So I’m going to do my best. It might be hard,” he said. “But I’m ready for the competition.”

Kevin now hopes to begin studies at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) level where he intends to write five subjects.

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