Another National Athlete Passes
On Sunday last, 12 May 2013, the athletics fraternity of St Vincent and the Grenadines joined the family of Lisa Daniel in the final rites for a young woman who devoted herself to becoming an athlete of note in this beautiful country of ours.
Yes! Lisa Angela Daniel is dead and buried.
Lisa died on Sunday 5 May, much to the chagrin of the entire athletics family in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Lisa Daniel’s running career saw her taking to the road. She was not really keen on engaging herself in track competition. She may well have thought that her style of running was not suited to the track competition.
She was often considered to have a very awkward style of running and so her early days in competitions did not see her doing much.
Lisa ran briefly for Sion Hill as the latter organisation sought to preserve its existence and maintain a presence in road running in St Vincent and the Grenadines. She also ran for XCEED for a while and finally ended up competing for XCEL. In a very real sense the several clubs could lay claim to Lisa’s athletics career. Each would have made some contribution towards her development just as she contributed in turn to their own enhanced athletics status in the country.
Much of her running achievements came in the past few years. At the time of course no one ever thought that she would have been taken from us so soon after enjoying her very best years as an athlete.
Lisa rose to prominence with time and became the country’s foremost road running female athlete in St Vincent and the Grenadines. She was successful at home and abroad.
Admittedly, Lisa was not the female equivalent of Pamenos Ballantyne but led the local females in road running representation in the Caribbean region.
Unfortunately Lisa did not make it to the international athletics competitions or to the numerous multi-sport Games in which St Vincent and the Grenadines takes part.
Career-wise, Lisa Daniel would probably have been seen as a relatively ordinary athlete. In reality, she may well have been anything but ordinary in several aspects of her participation in athletic s in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
One of the critical success factors for anyone interested in athletics, as is the case with any sport is that of commitment.
Lisa Daniel was not short of commitment. Indeed, some may suggest that after Pamenos Ballantyne, Lisa Daniel must have been one of the most committed Vincentian athletes.
When Lisa realised that she was not getting very far by way of success in the sport she turned to different coaches in search of assistance. She was neither afraid nor ashamed to ask for help with regard to her training.
Once she realised that she needed to improve if she was to succeed she asked for help.
Lisa Daniel got coaching help.
She was encouraged to train more systematically and she responded well. Some may suggest that Lisa Daniel took her training too seriously but that was not the case. She wanted to be successful and was prepared to undertake the hard work that is normally associated with success.
Lisa learnt that success meant getting out to training every day. The workouts varied but she had to get some work done each day. She became enthusiastic about the sport as she trained more frequently.
It is said that success breeds success. This became something of a truism for Lisa. Once she started getting among the medals and prize monies her motivation to train and compete increased tremendously.
Road running is a lonely aspect of athletics. Many people in the Caribbean do not like road running for this reason.
For many years we have watched here in St Vincent and the Grenadines the rigorous routine adopted by Pamenos Ballantyne in his heyday as the Caribbean’s foremost roadrunner. He became aware of the weekly mileage requirement is he wanted success in the sport.
Lisa Daniel had to learn the same lesson as Pamenos. She needed to significantly increase her weekly mileage if =she wanted to be successful and stay ahead of the rest of the athletes in this country who wanted to challenge her on the road.
It was not at all surprising that eventually, Lisa started doing her training alongside Pamenos Ballantyne for companionship. She realised that it was enjoyable for her to exercise with someone who had been successful in the sport for a very long time.
Pamenos’ own approach to the sport has changed over the years and so he was very happy to work alongside Lisa, providing encouragement and support.
Indeed Pamenos and Lisa became very good friends through training together and this was the reason that he was a regular visitor to her bedside when she was hospitalised.
Lisa’s commitment was unquestioned. She knew that given her style of running that she would probably never have reached the very highest level of performances but understood that with training she could become one of the more successful local athletes.
Her work ethic was tremendous.
Each day that she failed to make it to do her workout or complete what was set she felt that somehow she had let her coach and herself down.
Each time she was defeated she felt uncomfortable.
She was fortunate enough to have competed in several Caribbean countries with relative success.
Lisa Daniel’s life was full of challenges.
She experienced tremendous difficulty gaining meaningful employment. At times she was convinced that her unemployment status was a result of politics.
Unemployment meant that she often went to train without much in her stomach. Yet, many, even her coaches, were not always aware of her nutritional status.
It was Lisa’s nature not to complain and so she would have taken on the rigorous training regimen without much by way of resistance.
She kept many of her challenges to herself.
There were of course occasions when Lisa displayed some measure of hurt but always it was related to wanting to do more. She wanted to do so much more at so many different levels.
Unemployment cut deep into her dreams.
Eventually, Lisa was put on the Youth Empowerment Service (YES) Programme. This did not last very long. Once her first stint was completed she was terminated.
Persuaded to keep trying she was again placed on the YES programme and was assigned to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital. Her easy-going manner, deep desire to succeed and her amiable disposition allowed her to win friends and eventually led to her gaining full-time employment at the institution.
Lisa also did odd jobs such as moving around offering to cut the grass at people’s homes with her weedwacker, to add to her income.
She was never afraid of hard work and was prepared to face up to the demands of any job that was available to her, without complaint.
Full employment meant that Lisa was able to live and train with a fair level of comfort.
Lisa also had a son, Dwayne Darius Daniel. He was very dear to her. She lived for her son, in many respects. She cared for him and did everything to ensure that even if she had challenges his was kept to a minimum. Unemployment meant that she was unable to provide for him as she wanted. They were very close.
Not surprisingly therefore, following Lisa’s death, the son could only touch her face, play with her hair as the tears rolled down his cheeks. There was no shame there. It was his own tremendous expression of love for a mother whop sought to ensure that he was provided for with everything she had in her possession. He knew what he had lost but was assured that he had been left a great legacy from a very simple and humble young woman who both mothered and fathered him.
Lisa loved her family as much as she believed in its members.
Illness and death
Lisa Daniel, at the time of dying, remained unaware of the illness to which she succumbed.
Lisa’s parents are, to this day unaware of the cause of death.
At this stage, no one really wants to know.
Many who knew Lisa was bothered by the suddenness of her illness.
Some, who were close to her, thought that her illness might have come about as a result of poor nutrition. They argued that she sacrificed herself to ensure that her son was taken care of nutritionally and that he had the wherewithal to attend school comfortably.
Attempts by family and friends to get a clear explanation of what had befallen Lisa proved futile.
To some critical observers it seemed that Lisa had some problem in her head. She acted strange; became incoherent; was often tied to her bed while in hospital and often looked at her family and friends without recognising them.
Then, as suddenly as Lisa had fallen ill she seemed well again.
Indeed she had begun moving around Kingstown with a fair degree of confidence and was speaking cogently to all.
She was totally devastated by the bill in respect of the cost of her stay at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital. This bothered her and she began seeking assistance to clear the expense.
Lisa Daniel was supposed to return to work when instead she fell ill again. A few days later Lisa Daniel was dead.
Lisa Daniel’s family refused a request for an autopsy. The reasoning was simple. If they could not be told what was really wrong with her when she fell ill they did not want to know the cause of death after the fact.
Those who had come to know and love Lisa Daniel joined her family at the New Apostolic Church in Campden Park on Sunday 12 May 2013, to lay her to final rest. She left us just as she did after each race – no fanfare; just a quiet departure, regardless of the result.
Death is always a challenge for those who are left behind.
Lisa’s worldly worries and challenges are at an end. They ceased on the morning of 5 May 2013 at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital.
Vincentian society is now well aware that Lisa paid her dues. She made her contribution to our development by her small, seemingly insignificant yet humble approach to being involved in sport and more particularly athletics.
Perhaps in many different ways Lisa showed us how we should approach our own lives – humility, possessive of clearly defined goals; genuine commitment to family and to one’s choice of a pathway in life; discipline; love of life; love for others; and, a willingness to be available to others.
Those who knew Lisa Angela Daniel must have felt the pain of parting on hearing of her death. They must however know that she engaged in athletics with great passion. She relished the glory of sport and was always very proud to represent her native St Vincent and the Grenadines.